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International Current Affairs 2022


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Current International Events - August 2022

Greater Male Connectivity Projects: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih recently launched the contract for the mega Greater Male Connectivity project (GMCP).

Key Highlights:

  • The Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is on a three-day state visit, his first foreign trip after assuming charge of the top office in the island nation a month ago.
  • His visit to India will provide an opportunity for the two leaders to review the progress made in this wide-ranging partnership and lend further momentum to it.
  • Both countries also entered pacts in areas like cyber security, disaster management, and police infrastructure development.
  • PM Modi also said that India will also assist the Maldives in achieving its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
  • The Maldivian president also invited Indian investors to explore the opportunities in his country and forge a mutually beneficial partnership.

Male connectivity projects:

  • The GMCP is the largest-ever civilian infrastructure project in the Maldives.
  • Under the GMCP project, a 6.74 km long bridge and causeway link will be built to connect the capital city Male with adjoining islands namely: Villingili, Gulhifahu and Thilafushi.
  • It will be built under India’s USD 100 million grant and USD 400 million line of Credit (LoC).
  • India also extended a USD 100 million line of credit for development projects in the Maldives.
  • The USD 400 million LoC will be provided by the Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank).
  • The project will be developed by Indian construction and engineering firm, AFCONS, based in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

India and the Maldives Relations:

  • Maldives is India’s key neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region and occupies a special place in India’s Neighbourhood First Policy.
  • India was among the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country.
  • In recent years, the partnership has witnessed rapid growth in all areas of cooperation.

About Maldives:

  • The Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small island nation in South Asia.
  • It is situated in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean.
  • It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India.
  • The Capital of Maldives is Male.
  • The Currency of the Maldives is Maldivian Rufiyaa.
  • The current President of the Maldives is Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan recently becoming the highest-ranking American official to visit the self-ruled island that is claimed by China in 25 years.

Key Points:

  • Marking the most high-level political engagement from the U.S. to Taiwan, Pelosi arrived in Taiwan despite threats from Beijing of serious consequences.
  • Her visit has triggered increased tensions between China and the United States.
  • China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, to be annexed by force if necessary, and views visits by foreign government officials as recognition of the island’s sovereignty.

What is One China Principle and One China Policy?

  • One China Principle is a core belief that sees Taiwan as an inalienable part of China, with its sole legitimate government in Beijing.
  • However, the US acknowledges this position but not necessarily its validity.
  • One China Policy meaning that the People's Republic of China (PCR) was and is the only China, with no recognition for the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) as a separate sovereign entity.
  • At the same time, the US refuses to give in to the PRC’s demands to recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
  • The US only acknowledges the Chinese position that Taiwan is a part of China.
  • The PRC follows the One China Principle while The US follows the One China Policy.
  • The US has ever since maintained this stance and capitalized on the “strategic ambiguity” it generates to uphold the status quo and keep peace in the Taiwan Strait.

Note:

  • Taiwan and China split in 1949 after the Communists won a civil war on the mainland.
  • The U.S. maintains informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan even as it recognizes Beijing as the government of China.

About Taiwan:

  • Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia, at the junction of the East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south.
  • The territories controlled by the ROC consist of 168 islands.
  • The capital of Taiwan is Taipei.
  • The currency used here is New Taiwan dollar.
  • The current President of Taiwan is Tsai Ing-wen.

Chabahar Day: Union Shipping Minister Sarbanand Sonowal inaugurated the Chabahar Day conference.

Key Points:

  • The day was observed by Ministry of Port, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) in association with India Ports Global to mark the Chabahar – Link to INSTC - Connecting Central Asian Markets in Mumbai.

Note: INSTC (International North-South Transport Corridor) is India’s vision and initiative to reduce the time taken for EXIM shipments to reach Russia, Europe, and enter the central Asian markets.

  • The inauguration event was attended by dignitaries from Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan.
  • In May 2016, India and Iran inked a bilateral agreement in which India agreed to refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port and also reconstruct a 600-meter-long container handling facility at the port.
  • In October 2017, India's first shipment of wheat was sent through the Chabahar Port to Afghanistan.
  • A tripartite agreement for developing Chabahar port was signed in 2016 by India, Iran and Afghanistan.
  • They also agreed to set up a trilateral transport and transit corridor.

About Chabahar Port:

  • Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar located in southeastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman.
  • It is at a distance of 72 km from Pakistan’s Gwadar Port which was developed by China.
  • It serves as Iran's only oceanic port,
  • It consists of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti, each of which has five berths.
  • The Chabahar port is a key pillar of India's Indo-Pacific vision to connect Eurasia with Indian Ocean Region.
  • The port is also be part of the International North South Transport Corridor network connecting India.
  • Iran has given special incentives to increase trade cooperation activities between India and Iran through Chabahar port.

Significance of Chabahar port for India:

  • The significance of Chabahar port for India is that it will enhance connectivity to Afghanistan and the Central Asian States.
  • The port has opened up a permanent alternative route for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • It also counters the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar port, under the China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Khuvsgul Lake National Park: UNESCO recently added the Khuvsgul Lake National Park of Mongolia to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves along with 10 more new biosphere reserves in 8 countries, including three countries for the first time: Chad, Georgia and Zambia.

Two existing biosphere reserves in Spain have also been extended.

Key Points:

  • The decision was made during the 34th session of the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, which is composed of 34 representatives of UNESCO Member States.
  • The meeting took place from 13 to 17 June at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, France.

About Man and Biosphere Programme:

  • The Man and Biosphere Programme is an intergovernmental scientific program.
  • It was set up in early 1970s by UNESCO.
  • New biosphere reserves are designated every year by the MAB International Coordinating Council.

About Khuvsgul Lake:

  • Khuvsgul Lake is located in the northern Mongolian province of Khuvsgul near the Russian border.
  • Located at about 200 km west of Lake Baikal it freezes over completely in winter.
  • The lake is 1,645 meters above sea level.
  • It is 136 km long and 262 meters deep.
  • It holds nearly 70 per cent of Mongolia’s fresh water, or 0.4 per cent of the world’s total.

Note: According to the Mongolian Ministry, a total of nine sites from Mongolia have so far been registered in the network.

UNESCO newly designated biosphere reserves:

  • UNESCO has approved the designation of 11 new biosphere reserves in 9 countries, including three countries for the first time: Chad, Georgia and Zambia.
  • Two existing biosphere reserves in Spain have also been extended.

The 11 newly designated biosphere reserves are:

  1. Sunshine Coast Biosphere Reserve (Australia)
  2. Doumba-Rey Biosphere Reserve (Cameroon)
  3. Sena Oura Biosphere Reserve (Chad)
  4. Dedoplistskaro Biosphere Reserve (Georgia)
  5. Three Alazani Rivers Biosphere Reserve (Georgia)
  6. Burabay Biosphere Reserve (Kazakhstan)
  7. Markakol Biosphere Reserve (Kazakhstan)
  8. Khuvsgul Lake Biosphere Reserve (Mongolia)
  9. Harrat Uwayrid Biosphere Reserve (Saudi Arabia)
  10. Kafue Flats Biosphere Reserve (Zambia)
  11. Chimanimani Biosphere reserve (Zimbabwe)

Two extensions:

  1. El Hierro Biosphere Reserve (Spain)
  2. Sierra del Rincón Biosphere Reserve (Spain)

With the new designations, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves totals 738 sites in 134 countries.

About World Network of Biosphere Reserves:

  • UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves comprises biosphere reserves, which are internationally declared protected regions.
  • The reserves are intended to show how nature and people may coexist in harmony.
  • They are created under Man and the Biosphere Programme.
  • It comprises of a dynamic and interactive web network.
  • It strives to encourage harmonious integration of people and nature to attain sustainable development by means of participatory dialogue, poverty reduction, human well-being improvements, knowledge sharing, and respect for cultural values.

International Day for Countering Hate Speech 2022: The International Day for Countering Hate Speech is observed in June 18.

Key Points:

  • This day is observed to highlight the need for combating hate speech and promoting tolerance and dialogue between different communities.
  • According to the UN, hate speech is any kind of speech or writing that attacks or discriminates against a person or a group based on religion, ethnicity, nationality, descent, gender, race, color, or any other identity factor.
  • This year marks the first time the day will be observed.

Theme:

The first International Day of Countering Hate Speech was observed under the theme “Role of education to address the root causes of hate speech and advance inclusion, non-discrimination, and peace”.

History:

  • In July 2021, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution “promoting inter-religious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech”.
  • The global body also drew attention to concerns over the proliferation of hate speech all around the globe.
  • The resolution recognizes the need to counter discrimination, xenophobia and hate speech.
  • UNGA further called on all relevant actors, including States, to increase their efforts to address this phenomenon, in line with international human rights law.
  • It declared June 18 as the International Day for Countering Hate Speech.

Significance:

  • This day is significant for countering hate speech as hate speech goes against the core principles of the UN Charter such as equality, peace, and respect for human dignity.
  • It has the ability to undermine social cohesiveness and tolerance, as well as to produce violence and conflict, as well as physical, emotional, and psychological suffering to those impacted.
  • The catastrophic impact of the phenomenon has been further been compounded by social media and other forms of communication.
  • Hate speech, if allowed uncontrolled, can result in widespread human rights violations, escalate conflicts, and destabilize peace and development efforts.
  • The escalation from hate speech to violence has had a major role in the most horrific crimes of the modern world, from the anti-Semitism driving the Holocaust, to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Background:

  • This initiative which was started in 2019, builds upon UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech.
  • It emphasizes the "need to combat hate in a comprehensive manner while maintaining complete respect for freedom of expression and opinion."
  • It also provides a framework for global body to complement states in resolving this issue.

Fair Repair Act: The U.S. state of New York recently passed the Fair Repair Act.

Key Points:

  • According US’s Fair Repair Act, manufacturers must provide repair manuals, equipment, and supplies to independent repair shops and not just their own stores or partners.
  • This provides consumers with the right to repair and refurbish their purchased goods.
  • Independent repair businesses will finally be able to compete with manufacturers if they have access to the necessary tools and service instructions.
  • The rationale behind the “right to repair” is that the individual who purchases a product must own it completely.
  • This means that buyers must have the ability to fix and change the product however they see fit in addition to being able to utilize it.

What are the concerns of the manufacturers?

  • While right to repair is a victory for consumer rights, privacy, security and quality concerns along with blatant intellectual property (IP) rights violations of the manufacturers cannot be sidelined.
  • Manufacturers claim that allowing user and outsider repairs could have a negative impact on the product's quality and functionality.
  • They are so terrified that they include terms in the warranty that expire when the device is fixed by a third party.

Right To Repair in India:

  • Monopoly in the repair industry violates the 2019 Consumer Protection Act's "freedom to chose" for customers.
  • Consumer disputes jurisprudence in the country has also partially acknowledged the right to repair.

For instance - In India, currently, there’s no legislation or any provision dealing with ‘Right to Repair’ but in Shamsher Kataria v Honda Siel Cars India Ltd (2017)the Competition Commission of India ruled that restricting the access of independent automobile repair units to spare parts by way of an end-user license agreement was anti-competitive.

Provisions in Other Countries:

Many nations have taken steps, implemented regulations, and even attempted to enact laws that recognises the "right to repair" to reduce electronic waste. Some jurisdictions offer limited scope for exercising the right to repair.

  • The UK also introduced the path-breaking “right to repair” which came into force on July 1, 2021 that made mandatory for manufacturers to make spares available to both consumers and third-party repair technicians.
  • The remaining European nations will abide by EU laws and rules.
  • The manufacturers have two years to make the necessary changes and follow the new laws.
  • The legislation is considered as a positive step in minimizing e-waste by encouraging gadget repair instead of dumping in the scrap.
  • The Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act, 2012 requires automobile manufacturers to provide spare parts and diagnostics to buyers and even independent third-party mechanics.
  • France requires manufacturers to display a repairability index on their products which consists of five parameters.
  • This helps consumers understand whether the products are repairable, difficult to repair or not repairable at all.
  • The duration of imposing product liability may differ depending on the product and its longevity.

Commonwealth Diplomatic Academy programme: India and UK recently announced the establishment of a joint Commonwealth Diplomatic Academy programme.

Key Points:

  • The meeting was held by both the Foreign Ministers of India S Jaishankar and of the UK Liz at Kigali, Rwanda, where the heads of the Commonwealth countries met this week to discuss human rights, the Ukraine crisis and the post-pandemic recovery.
  • A joint statement by Truss and External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar on the establishment of an India-UK Commonwealth Diplomatic Academy programme was released on the occasion.
  • As per the joint statement the India-U.K. Commonwealth Diplomatic Academy programme will be hosted in New Delhi.
  • The programme aims to cater to young diplomats from all Commonwealth Member States with expertise and training on global challenges.
  • They underlined the U.K. and India's dedication to bringing the Commonwealth family a truly connected, inventive, and revolutionary future that supports the needs and expectations of all Member States.

BM-SEAL-11 Project: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) recently approved additional investment of USD 1,600 million (about Rs. 12,000 crore) by Bharat Petro Resources Ltd. (BPRL) for development of BM-SEAL-11 Concession Project in Brazil.

  • BPRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL)

Key Points:

  • The production from BM-SEAL-11 project is expected to start from 2026-27.
  • BPRL has 40% Participating Interest (PI) in this Concession along with Petrobras, National oil company of Brazil, as the Operator with 60% Participating Interest.

Significance:

This will help in:

  • Accessing to equity oil to strengthen India’s energy security.
  • Diversifying India’s crude oil supply and Indian oil companies have expressed interest in sourcing more crude oil from Brazil.
  • Strengthening India’s foothold in Brazil, which will further open business avenues in neighbouring Latin American countries.
  • Further strengthening the bilateral ties between the countries.

About Brazil:

  • Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America.
  • Brazil is the world's fifth-largest and sixth-most populous country, composed of 26 states and the Federal District.
  • It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas.
  • Brazil is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and it covers roughly half of South America's landmass and borders all other countries in the continent, except Ecuador and Chile.
  • Its Amazon basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats.
  • This unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of the seventeen megadiverse countries.
  • The capital of Brazil is Brasilia.
  • The currency used here is Brazilian real.

UN's Global Policy Framework for Displaced Children: United Nations-backed agencies recently issued guidelines to provide the first-ever global policy framework to protect children displaced due to climate change.

Key Highlights:

  • The land-mark guidelines were launched on July 25, 2022 with an aim to protect and empower children forced to flee their homes due to climate-related emergencies.
  • These guidelines were launched by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Georgetown University and the United Nations University.
  • The guidelines cover both internal as well cross-border migrations.

About the New Guidelines:

  • The Guiding Principles for Children on the Move in the Context of Climate Change’ comprises a set of nine principles to address the vulnerabilities of children who were forced for internal as well cross-border migrations.
  • The principles are based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and are informed by existing operational guidelines and frameworks.

These nine principles are as follows:

Principle 1: Rights-based approach

Principle 2: Best interests of the child

Principle 3: Accountability

Principle 4: Awareness and participation in decision-making

Principle 5: Family unity

Principle 6: Protection, safety and security

Principle 7: Access to education, health care and social services

Principle 8: Non-discrimination

Principle 9: Nationality

  • The guiding principles provide national and local governments, international organisations, and civil society groups with a foundation to build policies that protect children’s rights.

Impact of Climate Change on Children:

  • Every day, rising sea levels, hurricanes, wildfires and failing crops are pushing more and more children and families from their homes.
  • Additionally, nearly half of the world’s 2.2 billion children, or roughly one billion boys and girls, live in 33 countries at high risk of the impacts of climate change.
  • As per the UN reports, nearly 10 million children were displaced due to weather-related shocks in 2020 alone.
  • Migrant children, around the world are facing alarming levels of xenophobia, the socioeconomic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, and limited access to essential services.
  • Displaced children are at greater risk of abuse, trafficking, and exploitation.

In 2006, UNICEF and IOM had signed a Memorandum of Understanding, (MoU) defining the main areas of cooperation between the two agencies in humanitarian settings.

The well-established operational relationship responding to the pressing issues facing migrant children worldwide has been further strengthened since that time.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO): Iran and Belarus are likely to be the two newest additions to the China and Russia-backed Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) grouping.

Key Highlights:

  • Iran will become a full member after completing the formalities while Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states who follow the system of consensus in deciding admission of new members will take a call on Belarus’s application.
  • This is the first expansion of the SCO after India and Pakistan were admitted to the grouping in 2017.
  • China and Russia are looking to frame the grouping as a counter to the West — particularly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • The addition of Iran and Belarus can be seen as a move to change SCO into a counter for the US led alliance especially NATO.

Note: The expansion of NATO is totally different as the SCO is a cooperative organization based on non-alignment and not targeting a third party, while NATO is based on Cold War thinking.

Significance:

  • The significance of this expansion is that it reflects the growing international influence of the SCO.
  • It also shows that the principles of the SCO Charter are being widely accepted.

India and SCO Summit:

  • India will host the SCO summit 2023 next year and Varanasi has been selected as the SCO region’s first “Tourism and Cultural Capital”, a title it will hold next year coinciding with India chairing the SCO grouping.

About SCO Summit 2022:

  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit 2022 is planned to held in September 2022 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
  • The current SCO Secretary-General is General Zhang Ming, a veteran Chinese diplomat.
  • Expanding the group is among the issues that leaders of the grouping are likely to discuss at the SCO summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in September.
  • Samarkand summit is expected to have agreements on connectivity and high-efficiency transport corridors and a roadmap for local currency settlement among member states.

Background:

  • Iran was granted membership following the Dushanbe summit of 2021, and Belarus has also started the application process.

About Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO):

  • SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organization.
  • It is a Eurasian political, economic and military organization.
  • Its main aim is to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.
  • It is a successor organization to Shanghai Five, which was a mutual security agreement signed by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
  • On 2001 these countries and Uzbekistan announced the formation of a new collective aimed at increasing the political and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.
  • The SCO Charter was signed in 2002, and came into force in 2003.
  • India and Pakistan joined the organization in 2017.

Chairmanship of SCO:

  • The Chairmanship of SCO is based on the basis of rotation for a year by Member States.

India’s association with SCO:

  • India was made observer state in 2005 and was generally participated in the Inter-ministerial meetings of the SCO grouping.
  • India along with Pakistan was upgraded to the member state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2017.

New President of Sri Lanka: Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe was  elected as Sri Lanka's new President by Parliament on 20 July 2022.

Highlights:

  • The 73-year-old six-time prime minister was elected as the new Sri Lankan President after receiving 134 votes, while his competitor SLPP parliamentarian Dullas Alahaperuma received 82 votes.
  • The National People's Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake received three votes.
  • The new president will have a mandate to serve out the rest of Rajapaksa’s term, which ends in November 2024.
  • Wickremesinghe had been sworn in as the interim President of Sri Lanka earlier on July 15 in place of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who submitted his resignation from the post.
  • Gotabaya Rajapaksa, fled the country and resigned after a popular uprising against his government for mismanaging the economy.

Key Facts:

  • This is for the first time in 44 years that Sri Lanka’s parliament has directly elect a president.
  • In 1982, 1988, 1994, 1999, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2019 presidents were elected by popular vote.
  • The only previous occasion when the presidency became vacant mid-term was in 1993, when Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated.
  • DB Wijetunga was unanimously endorsed by parliament to run the balance of Premadasa’s term.

India's support to Sri Lanka:

  • India has promised to continue support to Sri Lanka
  • The Indian envoy in Sri Lanka acknowledged the election of Ranil Wickremesinghe as the President of Sri Lanka and promised continued support for ‘stability and economic recovery through democratic values’.

India– UK MoU on Mutual Recognition of Academic Qualification: India and the United Kingdom (UK) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on mutual recognition of academic qualifications to facilitate student mobility and collaboration between higher educational institutions of both countries.

Key Details:

  • The MoU was signed between Mr. James Bowler, Permanent Secretary, Department of International Trade of United Kingdom (UK) and Mr. K Sanjay Murthy, Secretary (Higher Education), Ministry of Education, Government of India (GoI).
  • A comprehensive Roadmap to 2030 was approved in May 2021 during the virtual summit between the Prime Ministers of India and the UK in order to improve bilateral cooperation between the two nations.
  • Both sides also agreed to a new Enhanced Trade Partnership.
  • The two sides agreed to a mutual recognition of academic credentials in order to increase education in light of India's National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020).

Significance of the MoU:

  • The Indian Government is taking several steps to allow greater international collaboration with countries abroad to facilitate Internationalization of education, which is one of the key areas of focus under the NEP 2020.
  • The MoU will enable smoother student mobility between the two countries and help in developing stronger institutional collaboration and widen the scope of academic and research collaboration between the Higher Education Institutions of both countries.

 

 

 

2022 Global Gender Gap Index: The World Economic Forum(WEF) recently released the Global Gender Gap Index, 2022 (GGGI 2022).

Key findings of the index:

  • As per the index, it will now take 132 years to reach gender parity, with the gap reducing only by four years since 2021 and the gender gap closed by 68.1%.
  • South Asia will take the longest to reach gender parity, which is estimated to be likely in 197 years.

Global Gender Gap Score of India:

  • India ranks poorly among its neighbours and is behind Bangladesh (71), Nepal (96), Sri Lanka (110), Maldives (117) and Bhutan (126).
  • Only the performance of Iran (143), Pakistan (145) and Afghanistan(146) was worse than India in South Asia.
  • As per the index India is ranked at 135 out of 146 countries.
  • In 2022, India’s overall score has improved from 0.625 (in 2021) to 0.629.

India ranks -

  • 146 in health and survival,
  • 143 in economic participation and opportunity,
  • 107 in educational attainment and
  • 48 in political empowerment.
  • India has scored the seventh-highest score in the last 16 years.
  • In 2021, India was ranked 140 out of 156 countries.
  • India also “recovered” ground since 2021 in economic participation and opportunity though the report goes on to add that the labour force participation shrunk for both men (by -9.5 percentage points) and women (-3 percentage points).

Global findings:

  • Although no country achieved full gender parity, the top 10 economies closed at least 80% of their gender gaps, with Iceland (90.8%) leading the global ranking.
  • Iceland (90.8%) has retained its place as the world’s most gender-equal country, followed by  Finland (86%, 2nd), Norway (84.5%, 3rd) and Sweden (82.2%, 5th) and New Zealand ( (84.1%) are in the top five.

 What is Global Gender Gap Index?

The first Global Gender Gap Report was published in 2006 by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Global Gender Gap Index benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions:

Economic Participation and Opportunity- This includes indicators like the proportion of women in the labour force, salary parity for comparable job, earned income, etc.

 Educational Attainment- This sub-index takes into account indicators including the literacy rate and enrollment rates for primary, secondary, and postsecondary education.

Health and Survival- This includes two metrics: the sex ratio at birth (in %) and healthy life expectancy (in years).

Political Empowerment- This includes statistics like the proportion of women in parliament and government positions, among other things.

On each of the above four dimensions as well as overall, the index provides scores between 0 and 1 where 1 shows full gender parity and 0 is complete imparity.

Its cross-country comparisons are intended to aid in the identification of the most successful gender gap-closing policies.

Dinesh Gunawardena: Senior politician and staunch Rajapaksa loyalist Dinesh Gunawardena has been appointed as the new and 15th Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

Key Highlights:

  • The 73-year-old was sworn in as the PM at the Prime Minister’s Office on Flower Road, Colombo on July 22, 2022 by President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
  • With the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fleeing the country and resigning from his position, Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the eighth President of Sri Lanka on July 21, 2022 through a parliamentary vote. 
  • He was sworn in along with 17 other cabinet ministers.
  • Gunawardena, had been appointed Home Minister in April by the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
  • He was chosen for the Prime Ministerial post after many discussions within Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party on July 21st.
  • Along with Prime Ministership, Gunawardena has additional charge of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Council, and Local Government.
  • Gunawardena succeeds Wickremesinghe, who was hand-picked by Mr. Gotabaya for the job in May, after Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from the post, amid soaring public outrage against the Rajapaksa clan.

Sri Lanka Crisis:

  • Sri Lanka's economy is bracing for a sharp contraction due to a scarcity of essential manufacturing inputs, a currency depreciation of 80% since March 2022, a lack of foreign reserves, and the country's failure to pay its international debt commitments.

UK Political Crisis: Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, recently announced his resignation.

Key Highlights:

  • He will remain in office, until the Conservative Party selects his successor.
  • Boris Johnson resigned as prime minister after more than 50 members of his Cabinet and lower level officials resigned from his government, many citing concerns that his ethical lapses had undermined the government’s credibility.
  • That triggered the internal Conservative Party contest to pick a new party leader.
  • Under Britain’s parliamentary government, the next party leader will automatically become prime minister without the need for a general election.
  • Conservative backbencher Tom Tugendhat has become the first contender to throw his hat into the ring to succeed Boris Johnson.
  • Other contenders include frontrunner Rishi Sunak, the former Treasury chief, and Nadim Zahawi, who took Sunak’s job as Chancellor of the Exchequer last week.
  • Foreign Secretary Liz Truss hasn’t formally announced but is expected to join the race.

Impact on India:

  • India has maintained that his resignation will not impact its relationship with UK.
  • His resignation is an internal development and India is closely monitoring the situation.

About the Chris Pincher scandal that led to UK PM Borris Johnson's Ouster:

  • The Chris Pincher scandal is a political controversy in the United Kingdom related to allegations of sexual misconduct by the former Conservative Party Deputy Chief Whip, Chris Pincher.
  • There were two complaints against 52-year-old MP over his conduct at the Carlton Club in London’s Piccadilly on 29 June.
  • He was accused by two men of drunkenly groping them.
  • This sparked a wave of accusations against him, some of which dated back years.
  • According to reports, he has also been charged with sexual assault cases, one in 2013 and another six years later in 2019.
  • After the matter was reported to and investigated by the UK government chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris, Pincher resigned.
  • The scandal sparked a major crisis for Johnson's government, with ministers, and a larger number of government staff, resigning on 5–7 July 2022, followed by Johnson's announcement on 7 July that he would resign as party leader.

World Population Day: World Population Day is observed on the 11th of July every year.

  • The main objective of the day is to increase the awareness of the people towards the worldwide population issues.

Theme of World Population Day 2022:

  • The World Population Day 2022 was celebrated under the theme “A world of 8 billion: Towards a resilient future for all – Harnessing opportunities and ensuring rights and choices for all”.

History:

  • World Population Day, which seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, was established by the then-Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989.
  • By a resolution in December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly decided to continue observing World Population Day enhance awareness of population issues, including their relations to the environment and development.
  • The Day was first marked on 11th July 1990 in more than 90 countries.

Significance:

  • World Population deals not only with the problem of overpopulation but also raises awareness on impacts of overpopulation on the development and environment.
  • It also deals with health problems faced by childbearing women. It highlights the significance of family planning, poverty, gender equality, human rights and maternal health.
  • The UN released a report on July 11, 2022 that stated that the world population is forecast to reach eight billion by mid-November 2022 as compared to seven billion in 2011.
  • Population is increasing by 1.10 percent per year.
  • It accounts for addition of 83 million people annually.
  • Population is likely to reach 8.6 billion in 2030 and 11.2 billion in 2100.

Population in India:

  • According to the report, India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country next year.

Leaders' Summit of I2U2: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will be participating virtually in the first I2U2 Summit, along with Prime Minister of Israel Yair Lapid, President of the UAE Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and President of the USA Joseph R. Biden.

The meeting will be held on on July 14, 2022.

Key Points:

  • I2U2 is aimed to encourage joint investments in six mutually identified areas such as water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.
  • It also intends to mobilize private sector capital and expertise to help modernise the infrastructure, low carbon development pathways for our industries, improve public health, and promote the development of critical emerging and green technologies.
  • The Leaders will discuss the possible joint projects within the framework of I2U2 as well as the other common areas of mutual interest to strengthen the economic partnership in trade and investment in our respective regions and beyond.
  • These projects can serve as a model for economic cooperation and offer opportunities for our businesspersons and workers.

Background:

  • The I2U2 grouping was conceptualized during the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Israel, UAE, US and India held on October 18, 2021.
  • Note: I2U2 stands for “I” for India and Israel and “U” for the US and UAE.
  • Each country also has Sherpa-level interactions regularly to discuss the possible areas of cooperation.

State of Emergency in Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka has declared an indefinite state of emergency as massive protests gripped Colombo after Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa  fled the country.

Key Highlights:

  • Rajapaksa, 73 fled the country to the Maldives along with his wife on July 12, 2022.
  • He was expected to step down from his position on July 13.
  • An indefinite curfew has been imposed across the Western Province to contain the spiraling protests.
  • The Prime Minister's office released a statement saying that "Since the president was out of the country, an emergency has been declared to deal with the situation."
  • An extraordinary Gazette has been issued by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, appointing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to perform and discharge the powers and duties of the Office of the President with effect from July 13, 2022.
  • The official letter has no signature of the president.
  • However, the protestors are demanding Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to also step down along with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka Economic Crisis:

  • Sri Lanka is headed deep into one of its worst economic crisis.
  • Rajapaksa is accused of mismanaging the economy to a point where the country has run out of foreign exchange to finance even the most essential imports, leading to severe hardships for its 22 million people.
  • There is a severe food and fuel shortage in the country, leading to long queues to buy fuel and cooking gas, forcing people to skip meals to survive on the already scarce food.
  • The island nation today relies on assistance from the International Monetary Fund and nearby nations like China and India to survive.
  • Due to its $51 billion in debt, the nation is unable to pay even the interest on its debts.
  • As a result of the over 80% collapse in the value of the Sri Lankan rupee, there has been extremely high inflation, with food prices soaring by nearly 57%.

About Sri Lanka:

  • Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia.
  • It is located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea.
  • The capitals of Srilanka Colombo and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
  • Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital while Colombo is the largest city and center of commerce.
  • The currency used here is Sri Lankan rupee.

I2U2 Leaders’ Virtual Summit: The first India-Israel-UAE-USA (I2U2) Leader’s Summit was organised on July 14, 2022, in virtual mode.

Key Facts:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi was joined by United States President Joe Biden, Israeli PM Yair Lapid and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Note:  The grouping is known as ‘I2U2’ with “I” standing for India and Israel and “U” for the US and the UAE.

  • The I2U2 grouping was conceptualized during the meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries held on October 18 2021.
  • The inaugural I2U2 leaders meeting focused on the food security crisis and clean energy.

Key Points about the I2U2 Leader’s Summit:

  • In a Joint Statement, the leaders said that innovative ways were discussed to ensure longer-term, more diversified food production and food delivery systems that can better manage global food shocks.
  • They intend to mobilize private sector capital and expertise to modernize infrastructure, advance low carbon development pathways for industries, improve public health and access to vaccines and advance physical connectivity between countries in the Middle East region.
  • They also intend to jointly create new solutions for waste treatment, explore joint financing opportunities and promote the development of critical emerging and green technologies.
  • The statement reaffirmed support for the Abraham Accords and other peace and normalization arrangements with Israel.
  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that it will invest $2 billion in India to create the food parks to help tackle food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East.
  • India will provide “appropriate land” for “food parks” across the country that will be built in collaboration with Israel, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
  • India will “facilitate farmers’ integration into the food parks.
  • The food parks aimed at cutting down “food waste and spoilage” are a few of the collaborations that the four countries declared after the summit.
  • The leaders said they would bring in private capital for specific projects in the fields of water, energy, transportation, health, space and food security.
  • U.S. and Israeli private sectors will be invited to lend their expertise and offer innovative solutions that contribute to the overall sustainability of the project.
  • These investments will help maximise crop yields which, in turn, will help tackle food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East.
  • The I2U2 Group also declared that it will support a “hybrid renewable energy project” in Gujarat, consisting of 300 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar capacity.
  • The project is expected to be another step in India’s quest for “500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030”.

First Citizenship Amendment Bill of Nepal: The Parliament of Nepal recently passed the first ever “Citizenship Amendment Bill”.

Background:

  • The bill has been under discussion in the House of Representatives since 2020 because it could not bring a consensus among political parties.
  • It failed to be endorsed due to differences among the political parties over certain provisions, namely the seven-year waiting period for obtaining naturalised citizenship for foreign women married to Nepali men.

About Nepal’s first Citizenship Amendment Bill 2022:

  • Nepal’s first Citizenship Amendment Bill 2022 will amend the Nepal Citizenship Act 2006.
  • Bill will make provisions to provide citizenship in line with the Constitution.
  • There was a need to amend the citizenship act, because There are thousands of people who are deprived of citizenship certificates even though their parents are citizens of Nepal.
  • The lack of citizenship further deprives them of education and other facilities provided by government.

Citizenship Law in Nepal:

  • Citizenship or Nationality in Nepal is regulated under Articles 8, 9, and 10 of Constitution of Nepal.
  • Nepal Parliament had promulgated the “Nepal Citizenship Act 1964” on February 28, 1964.
  • The act provides for single citizenship in entire country.
  • Later in 2006, “Nepal Citizenship Act, 2006” was promulgated to repeal 1964 act.
  • 2006 act comprises of provisions related to termination and acquisition of citizenship in Nepal.
  • To get citizenship card in Nepal, people need to present citizenship cards of mother and father, along with the birth certificate.

About Nepal:

  • Nepal formally the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia.
  • It is mainly situated in the Himalayas, but also includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, bordering Tibet of China to the north, and India in the south, east, and west.
  • It is narrowly separated from Bangladesh by the Siliguri Corridor and from Bhutan by the Indian state of Sikkim.
  • Nepal is a multinational state, with Nepali as the official language.
  • The currency used here is the Nepalese rupee.
  • Kathmandu is the nation's capital.

Former PM of Japan Assassinated: Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated in Nara on 8th July 2022 while campaigning for the upcoming election.

Key facts:

  • The 67-year-old world leader was shot dead while making a speech in the western city of Nara.
  • The police arrested a suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, on an initial charge of attempted murder before Mr. Abe’s death was announced.
  • It was the first assassination of a sitting or former Japanese premier since the days of prewar militarism in the 1930s.
  • Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, has announced that India would observe a day of national mourning.

About Abe:

  • Hailing from a political family, Mr Abe, was Japan's longest-serving prime minister.
  • He held office in 2006 for a year and then again from 2012 to 2020, before stepping down citing health reasons.
  • While he was in office, he pushed more assertive policies on defence and foreign policy and had long sought to amend Japan's pacifist post-war constitution.
  • He also pushed for an economic policy that came to be known as "Abenomics", built on monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reforms.
  • He was succeeded by his close party ally Yoshihide Suga, who was later replaced by Fumio Kishida.
  • He shared a close relationship with India, visiting the country in 2006, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

International Day of Cooperatives 2022: The International Day of Cooperatives is commonly known as Coops Day.

Key Points:

  • Marked by cooperatives worldwide since 1923 and officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the centenary of the ICA in 1995, the International Day of Cooperatives is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of July.
  • This year, the day was observed on 2 July to highlight the contributions of the cooperative movement.
  • This year was the 100th International Day of Cooperatives.
  • Since 1995, the ICA and the United Nations through the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) have jointly set the theme for the celebration of CoopsDay.

Theme of 2022 Coop Day:

  • In 2022, the theme for the International Day of Cooperatives is “Cooperatives Build a Better World”– echoes the theme of the International Year.’

Aim:

  • The aim of Coops Day is to increase awareness of cooperatives and promote the movement’s ideas of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace.

Significance:

  • The ICA invites cooperators everywhere to spread the word about how our human-centred business model, inspired by the cooperative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity and the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others, is building a better world.

History:

  • On 16 December 1992, UNGA passed a resolution to proclaim the first Saturday of July 1995 as the International Day of Cooperatives.
  • The date was chosen as it marked the centenary of the International Cooperative Alliance’s establishment.

14th BRICS Summit: The 14th BRICS Summit was recently hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Key Points:

  • The summit was held in virtual format.
  • It was held under the theme of 'Foster High-quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development'.
  • China is the chair of the 14th BRICS Summit happening this year which assumes importance as this was the first BRICS Summit after Russia-Ukraine war began and Russia is currently under severe economic sanction by the west led by the US.

High-level Dialogue on Global Development:

  • President Xi Jinping also hosted the High-level Dialogue on Global Development in Beijing.
  • The Dialogue was held in virtual format under the theme of 'Foster a Global Development Partnership for the New Era to Jointly Implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development'.

Beijing Declaration:

  • The two day summit concluded with the Beijing Declaration.
  • The declaration says that the BRICS countries support talks between Russia and Ukraine.
  • They discussed concerns over the humanitarian situation in and around Ukraine and expressed support for United Nations, UN agencies and Red Cross to provide humanitarian assistance.
  • The BRICS declaration also stated that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.
  • The summit called for finalization and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism within the UN framework.

India‐Argentina Bilateral Relations: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently met President of Argentina Alberto Fernandez, in Munich on the sidelines of G7 Summit.

Key Highlights:

This was the first bilateral meeting between the two leaders.

They reviewed progress in implementing the bilateral Strategic Partnership established in 2019.

Discussions took place on various issues including trade and investment, South-South cooperation, particularly in the renewable energy, nuclear medicine, pharmaceutical sector, climate action, electric mobility, defence cooperation, agriculture and food security, traditional medicine, cultural cooperation, as well as coordination in international bodies.

India-Argentina Bilateral Trade:

  • According to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, “India-Argentina bilateral trade during the fiscal year 2021-22 was USD 5.63 billion (an increase of 70.1% over 2020-21), with India’s exports to Argentina valued at USD 1.43 billion registering a growth of 107.3% over exports in 2020-21 and Argentina’s exports to India valued at USD 4.20 billion.”

G7 Summit:

  • The G7 is an informal forum of leading industrialized nations, which include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • Representatives of the European Union are always present at the annual meeting of the heads of state and government of the G7.
  • Germany holds the presidency of the G7 in 2022.

European Union Candidate Status: The European Parliament recently approved the EU candidacy status for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in a convincing vote.

Key Points:

  • This was announced by European Council President Charles Michel after discussions among leaders of the EU's 27 member states.
  • A total of 529 votes were cast for the resolution to defer the status of the three countries, while 45 voted against the proposal.
  • Another 14 politicians abstained.
  • The European Parliament also approved EU candidacy for Georgia.
  • In order to join the 27-member EU bloc, the three countries will be required to carry out a series of political and economic reforms.
  • The European Council, which comprises the heads of all 27 EU governments, would have the final vote on Ukraine’s membership.
  • The vote must be unanimous.
  • However,according to diplomts, the process could take a decade to complete. 
  • The vote came as the U.S. said, it was sending 450 million dollar more in military aid to Ukraine, including some additional medium-range rocket systems.

About European Council (EC):

  • EC is an executive body of the EU, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU.
  • The EU is a group of 27 countries that operate as a cohesive economic and political block.
  • The Commission is divided into departments known as Directorates-General (DGs) that can be likened to departments or ministries headed by a director-general who is responsible to a commissioner.

Structure:

  • It operates as a cabinet government, with 28 members of the Commission.
  • There is one member per member state. These members are proposed by member countries and European Parliament gives final approval to them.
  • One of the 28 members is the Commission President proposed by the European Council and elected by the European Parliament.

BRICS: Iran has submitted an application to become a member in the group of emerging economies known as the BRICS

Key Phighlights:

  • Iran, which holds the world’s second-largest gas reserves, wants to join the BRICS group of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • Argentina had also applied to join.
  • Alberto Fernandez, the president of Argentina, who is presently travelling in Europe, has recently reaffirmed his country's intention to join the BRICS.

About BRICS:

  • BRICS is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
  • The term BRIC was coined by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill in 2001 to describe the startling rise of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
  • Jim O’Neill claimed that claiming that by 2050 the four BRIC economies would come to dominate the global economy by 2050.
  • The BRIC powers had their first summit in 2009 in Russia.
  • South Africa joined in 2010.

Statistics:

  • Of the BRICS nations, China is by far the largest economy, making up more than 70% of their combined 27.5 trillion US dollar GDP.
  • According to IMF data, India accounts for about 13 percent and Russia as well as Brazil each account for about seven percent,
  • BRICS account for more than 40 percent of the world’s population and about 26 percent of the global economy.

14th Prime Minister of Israel: Yair Lapid who is the leader of Yesh Atid Party has officially become the 14th prime minister of Israel.

Key Highlights:

  • He has replaced Naftali Benett.
  • Lapid's term could be the short one as he takes over the caretaker government ahead of Israel's election which was scheduled to take place on November 1.
  • Israel's Parliament voted on June 30 to dissolve itself and send the country to the polls in November for the fifth time in less than four years.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulated Yair Lapid for assuming the Premiership of Israel and said that he looks forward to furthering the bilateral strategic partnership as the two countries celebrate 30 years of full diplomatic relations.

About Yair Lapid:

  • Yair Lapid, born 5 November 1963 is an Israeli politician and former journalist.
  • He also previously served as the Alternate Prime Minister of Israel and the Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2021 to 2022.
  • Before entering politics, Yair Lapid was an author, TV presenter, and news anchor.

About Israel:

  • Israel formally known as the State of Israel  is a country in Western Asia.
  • It is located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea.
  • It is regarded as the biblical Holy Land by Jews, Muslims and Christians.
  • Its most sacred sites are in Jerusalem which is also the Capital of Israel.
  • The currency used here is Israeli Shekel.
  • The current President of Israel is Isaac Herzog.

International Day of Parliamentarism 2022: Every year 30 June is celebrated as International Day of Parliamentarism across the world.

Key Points:

  • It marks day of establishment of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the global organization of parliaments.
  • The IPU was founded in Paris in 1889.
  • The year 2022 is the 133th anniversary of IPU.
  • On the occasion of the International Day of Parliamentarism, it is important to analyse the progress that parliaments have made toward a number of important objectives that include increasing the representation of women and young people in parliaments as well as embracing new technology.

Theme:

  • In 2022, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and its Member Parliaments will mark the International Day of Parliamentarism under the theme of "Public Engagement."
  • This follows the recent launch of the Global Parliamentary Report on Public engagement in the work of parliament.

History:

  • It was established by United Nations General Assembly in 2018 by adopting n its resolution A/RES/72/278.
  • The day seeks to unite all parliamentarians of the world.
  • It recognized role played by parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national as well as global levels.

Significance:

  • The Day celebrates parliaments and ways in which parliamentary systems of government improve everday lives of people throughout the world.
  • It is also an opportunity for parliaments to identify challenges, and stock ways to address them effectively.

About IPU:

  • Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the world organization of parliaments.
  • It is an international organization of national parliaments to promote democratic governance, accountability, and cooperation among its members.
  • It connects national parliaments in order to promote greater accountability, transparency and participation at global level.

Key Facts about Parliaments:

Every nation in the world has a representative government, whether it be a presidential or parliamentary form.

A parliamentary system is of two categories:

  1. Bicameral-with two chambers of parliament
  2. Unicameral-with one chamber

Out of 193 countries, 79 are bicameral and 114 are unicameral.

Note: The World’s oldest parliament is Althingi, the Icelandic Parliament. It was founded in 930.

Importance of Parliament:

  • Strong parliaments are a cornerstone of a democracy.
  • They represent voice of people, allocate funds to implement laws and policies, pass laws and hold governments accountable to people.

Current International Events - July 2022

Khuvsgul Lake National Park: UNESCO recently added the Khuvsgul Lake National Park of Mongolia to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves along with 10 more new biosphere reserves in 8 countries, including three countries for the first time: Chad, Georgia and Zambia.

Two existing biosphere reserves in Spain have also been extended.

Key Points:

  • The decision was made during the 34th session of the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, which is composed of 34 representatives of UNESCO Member States.
  • The meeting took place from 13 to 17 June at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, France.

About Man and Biosphere Programme:

  • The Man and Biosphere Programme is an intergovernmental scientific program.
  • It was set up in early 1970s by UNESCO.
  • New biosphere reserves are designated every year by the MAB International Coordinating Council.

About Khuvsgul Lake:

  • Khuvsgul Lake is located in the northern Mongolian province of Khuvsgul near the Russian border.
  • Located at about 200 km west of Lake Baikal it freezes over completely in winter.
  • The lake is 1,645 meters above sea level.
  • It is 136 km long and 262 meters deep.
  • It holds nearly 70 per cent of Mongolia’s fresh water, or 0.4 per cent of the world’s total.

Note: According to the Mongolian Ministry, a total of nine sites from Mongolia have so far been registered in the network.

UNESCO newly designated biosphere reserves:

  • UNESCO has approved the designation of 11 new biosphere reserves in 9 countries, including three countries for the first time: Chad, Georgia and Zambia.
  • Two existing biosphere reserves in Spain have also been extended.

The 11 newly designated biosphere reserves are:

  1. Sunshine Coast Biosphere Reserve (Australia)
  2. Doumba-Rey Biosphere Reserve (Cameroon)
  3. Sena Oura Biosphere Reserve (Chad)
  4. Dedoplistskaro Biosphere Reserve (Georgia)
  5. Three Alazani Rivers Biosphere Reserve (Georgia)
  6. Burabay Biosphere Reserve (Kazakhstan)
  7. Markakol Biosphere Reserve (Kazakhstan)
  8. Khuvsgul Lake Biosphere Reserve (Mongolia)
  9. Harrat Uwayrid Biosphere Reserve (Saudi Arabia)
  10. Kafue Flats Biosphere Reserve (Zambia)
  11. Chimanimani Biosphere reserve (Zimbabwe)

Two extensions:

  1. El Hierro Biosphere Reserve (Spain)
  2. Sierra del Rincón Biosphere Reserve (Spain)

With the new designations, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves totals 738 sites in 134 countries.

About World Network of Biosphere Reserves:

  • UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves comprises biosphere reserves, which are internationally declared protected regions.
  • The reserves are intended to show how nature and people may coexist in harmony.
  • They are created under Man and the Biosphere Programme.
  • It comprises of a dynamic and interactive web network.
  • It strives to encourage harmonious integration of people and nature to attain sustainable development by means of participatory dialogue, poverty reduction, human well-being improvements, knowledge sharing, and respect for cultural values.

International Day for Countering Hate Speech 2022: The International Day for Countering Hate Speech is observed in June 18.

Key Points:

  • This day is observed to highlight the need for combating hate speech and promoting tolerance and dialogue between different communities.
  • According to the UN, hate speech is any kind of speech or writing that attacks or discriminates against a person or a group based on religion, ethnicity, nationality, descent, gender, race, color, or any other identity factor.
  • This year marks the first time the day will be observed.

Theme:

The first International Day of Countering Hate Speech was observed under the theme “Role of education to address the root causes of hate speech and advance inclusion, non-discrimination, and peace”.

History:

  • In July 2021, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution “promoting inter-religious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech”.
  • The global body also drew attention to concerns over the proliferation of hate speech all around the globe.
  • The resolution recognizes the need to counter discrimination, xenophobia and hate speech.
  • UNGA further called on all relevant actors, including States, to increase their efforts to address this phenomenon, in line with international human rights law.
  • It declared June 18 as the International Day for Countering Hate Speech.

Significance:

  • This day is significant for countering hate speech as hate speech goes against the core principles of the UN Charter such as equality, peace, and respect for human dignity.
  • It has the ability to undermine social cohesiveness and tolerance, as well as to produce violence and conflict, as well as physical, emotional, and psychological suffering to those impacted.
  • The catastrophic impact of the phenomenon has been further been compounded by social media and other forms of communication.
  • Hate speech, if allowed uncontrolled, can result in widespread human rights violations, escalate conflicts, and destabilize peace and development efforts.
  • The escalation from hate speech to violence has had a major role in the most horrific crimes of the modern world, from the anti-Semitism driving the Holocaust, to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Background:

  • This initiative which was started in 2019, builds upon UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech.
  • It emphasizes the "need to combat hate in a comprehensive manner while maintaining complete respect for freedom of expression and opinion."
  • It also provides a framework for global body to complement states in resolving this issue.

Commonwealth Diplomatic Academy programme: India and UK recently announced the establishment of a joint Commonwealth Diplomatic Academy programme.

Key Points:

  • The meeting was held by both the Foreign Ministers of India S Jaishankar and of the UK Liz at Kigali, Rwanda, where the heads of the Commonwealth countries met this week to discuss human rights, the Ukraine crisis and the post-pandemic recovery.
  • A joint statement by Truss and External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar on the establishment of an India-UK Commonwealth Diplomatic Academy programme was released on the occasion.
  • As per the joint statement the India-U.K. Commonwealth Diplomatic Academy programme will be hosted in New Delhi.
  • The programme aims to cater to young diplomats from all Commonwealth Member States with expertise and training on global challenges.
  • They underlined the U.K. and India's dedication to bringing the Commonwealth family a truly connected, inventive, and revolutionary future that supports the needs and expectations of all Member States.

Gustavo Petro: Former Bogota mayor and ex-rebel fighter Gustavo Petro has become Colombia's President on 19 June 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • The vote was held amid widespread discontent at the way the country has been run, and there were anti-government protests in 2021 in which dozens of people died.
  • Petro, a current senator won the election narrowly defeating real estate millionaire Rodolfo Hernández in the run-off election.
  • He took 50.5 percent votes, defeated the right wing construction magnate Rodolfo Hernandez by around 7,00,000 ballots.
  • When he takes office, Petro will become Colombia's first leftist president
  • The 62-year-old Mr. Petro ran for president for the third time, and his triumph adds the Andean nation to a growing list of Latin American countries that have elected progressives in recent years.
  • This result etches a major breakthrough for the country, who has spent decades being governed by conservatives and moderates, with elections being held amid nationwide discontent with the country’s governance.
  • His running mate Francia Marquez, a single mother and former housekeeper is set to become Colombia’s first Afro-Colombian woman to be elected Vice-President.

About Gustavo Petro:

  • Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego born 19 April 1960 is a Colombian economist, politician, former guerrilla fighter, senator.
  • Petro embraced leftist politics as a teenager after the 1973 coup d'etat in Chile that unseated Marxist president Salvador Allende.
  • He was a member of the now disbanded M-19 movement in the 1980s.
  • The rebel left-wing group was one of many guerrilla organizations that waged war against the state.
  • He was captured by the military in 1985 and claimed to have been tortured before spending almost two years in jail on arms charges.
  • He was freed and the M-19 signed a peace deal with the government in 1990.
  • He has since served as a lower house legislator, senator and mayor.

About Columbia:

  • Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a country in South America with an insular region in North America.
  • It is bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the north, Venezuela to the east, Brazil to the southeast, Ecuador and Peru to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and Panama to the northwest.
  • The capital of Columbia is Bagota.
  • The currency used here is Colombian peso

International Yoga Day 2022: International yoga day is celebrated on the 21st of June of every year.

Key Highlights:

  • This year i.e., 2022, the world will celebrate the 8th International Yoga Day.
  • The first international yoga day was observed on 21st June 2015.

Theme for 2022:

  • The theme for 2022 is “Yoga for humanity“. This year’s theme of international yoga day will focus on the importance of yoga in serving better mental health in our life.

Why is International Yoga Day celebrated on 21st June?

  • It is celebrated on the 21st of June because it is said to be the longest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere and it shares special significance in many parts of the world.

History:

  • The initiative of international yoga day was proposed by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on 27th September 2014.
  • It was first observed on 21st June 2015 in which 36000 people including the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and other eminent personalities from all around the world performed 21 yoga asanas for 35 minutes in New Delhi.

About Yoga:

  • Yoga is an ancient practice which originated in India.
  • It involves meditation, movement and breathing techniques to promote mental and physical well-being.
  • There are several types of yoga and many disciplines within the practice.
  • This article explores the history, philosophy, health and wellness benefits, and various branches of yoga.
  • Indian monks spread their knowledge of yoga in the West during the late 1890s.
  • Modern yoga teachings became widely popular in Western countries by the 1970s.

History:

  • Yoga can be traced back to northern India over 5,000 years ago.
  • The first mention of the word “yoga” appears in Rig Veda, a collection of ancient texts. Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” which means “union” or “to join.”

Branches of Yoga:

  • There are six branches of yoga.
  • Each branch represents a different focus and set of characteristics.

The six branches are:

  1. Raja yoga:
  • This branch involves meditation and strict adherence to a series of disciplinary steps known as the eight limbs of yoga.

2.Jnana yoga:

  • This branch of yoga is about wisdom, the path of the scholar, and developing the intellect through study.

3.Karma yoga:

  • This is a path of service that aims to create a future free from negativity and selfishness.

4.Bhakti yoga:

  • This aims to establish the path of devotion, a positive way to channel emotions and cultivate acceptance and tolerance.

5.Hatha yoga:

  • This is the physical and mental branch that aims to prime the body and mind.

6.Tantra yoga:

  • This is the pathway of ritual, ceremony, or consummation of a relationship.

Rwanda Deal: The United Kingdom (UK) recently signed a deal with Rwanda to send some asylum seekers to the East African nation.

Key Points:

  • As per Boris Johnson this move would save countless lives from human trafficking.
  • However, the move has been condemned by the opposition politicians and refugee groups as inhumane, unworkable and a waste of public money.
  • Home Secretary Priti Patel had visited the Rwandan capital, Kigali to sign what the two countries called an “economic development partnership.”
  • Some people who arrive in the United Kingdom as stowaways on lorries or small boats over the English Channel will be picked up by the British government and flown 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometres) to Rwanda, allegedly for good.

Reason of the deal:

  • The agreement aims to tackle "people smugglers," who charge vulnerable migrants exorbitant fees to transport them on unseaworthy boats from France to England, which frequently result in mass drownings.
  • The UK claims that this migration solution is humanitarian and is aimed at the gangs that operate these unlawful crossings.

About Rwanda Deal:

  • The Rwanda Deal or the UK and Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two governments.
  • Under this deal, Rwanda would accept asylum seekers who arrive in the UK using illegally aided and illicit cross-border migration on or after January 1, 2022.
  • Rwanda will serve as the holding centre where asylum applicants will wait while the Rwandan government makes decisions about their asylum and resettlement petitions in Rwanda.
  • Rwanda, on its part, will accept anyone who is not a kid or has no criminal past.

UK's Immigrants crisis:

  • Since 2018, the number of refugees and asylum seekers attempting perilous crossings between Calais, France, and Dover, England, has increased dramatically.
  • Most such migrants and asylum seekers hail from war-torn countries like Afghanistan, and Yemen, Sudan, or developing countries like Iran and Iraq.
  • In 2021, more than 28,000 people arrived in Britain having crossed the channel from France in small boats.
  • Around 90% of those were male, and three-quarters were men between 18 and 39 years old.

About Rwanda:

  • Rwanda, officially the Republic of Rwanda, is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley of Central Africa, where the African Great Lakes region and Southeast Africa converge.
  • Rwanda is known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills”.
  • Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The capital of Rwanda is Kigali.
  • The currency in use here is Rwandan franc.
  • The current President of Rwanda is Paul Kagame.

Summit of the Americas 2022: The ninth Summit of the Americas 2022 recently took place from June 6 to June 10, 2022 in Los Angeles (L.A.) , United States (US).

Theme of the summit:

  • The theme of the summit of 2022 was “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future”.

Atendees and Non-attendees of the summit:

  • The White House announced in January 2022 that Los Angeles would be the host city.
  • The US chose the location and attendees for this summit.
  • The US did not invite Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela to this year's summit because their leaders are accused of being undemocratically elected.
  • President of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President of Honduras, Xiomara Castro boycotted the summit.
  • Prime Minister of Saint Vincent, the President of Bolivia, President of Guatemala too did not attend the summit.

About Summit of the Americas 2022:

  • The summit takes place once every three years.
  • It is organized by the Organization of American States (OAS)
  • It was first organized in 1994.
  • It is the only meeting that convenes most heads of state and government in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Once selected by OAS organizers, the host country determines the agenda and who will be invited; the guest list often includes business and civil society groups.
  • The summit brings together countries from the Americas, which are usually represented by government officials such as senior officials and foreign ministers, as well as heads of state and government.
  • Each summit concludes with members agreeing on a plan of action for addressing the issues discussed.
  • The purpose of the summit has been to promote and encourage cooperation between countries, including economic prosperity, democracy and free enterprise.

About Los Angeles:

  • Los Angeles Los Angeles often known by its initials L.A. is a largest city in the U.S. state of California as well as the second-largest city in United States after New York City.
  • It lies in the basin in Southern California.
  • This city is home to the Tongva and Chumash indigenous peoples.
  • The city is well-known for its Mediterranean climate.
  • With a population representing 140 countries, it has a cultural and ethnic diversity, sprawling metropolitan area, and Hollywood film industry.
  • It hosts businesses in a broad range of cultural and professional fields.

MoU between India and the UAE: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today has approved the proposal for signing a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on cooperation in the field of industries and advanced technologies.

Significance of the MoU:

  • The MoU aims at strengthening and developing industries in both nations through investments, technology transfer and the deployment of key technologies in industries. 
  • The implementation of the MoU seeks to lead in increasing research and innovation in all areas of mutual cooperation.

The MoU envisages cooperation on a mutually beneficial basis in the following areas:

  • Strengthening the Supply Chain
  • Resilience of Industries
  • Renewable & Energy Efficiency
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Health and life sciences
  • Space Systems
  • Industry 4.0 Enabling Technologies
  • Standardization, conformity assessment, accreditation, metrology and Halal certification.

India & UAE Bilateral Trade:

  • Bilateral trade between India and the UAE has increased from $180 million per year in the 1970s to $60 billion today, making the UAE India's third-largest trading partner after China and the United States.
  • With an estimated investment of $18 billion, the UAE is India's eighth largest investor.
  • Indian investments in the UAE are estimated at around $85 billion (₹6.48 lakh crore).
  • Both countries have signed a comprehensive trade agreement with the goal of increasing bilateral trade from $60 billion to $100 billion over the next five years.
  • The signing of the MoU will result in fulfilling the goal of Atmanirbhar Bharat in making India a self-reliant nation.

I2U2 Summit: The new I2U2 grouping of India, Israel, UAE and the US will soon hold it’s first-ever I2U2 virtual summit in July 2022.

Key Details:

  • The United States is the latest addition to the grouping which is now being termed as I2U2 (India, Israel, US and UAE).
  • As per the White House, the I2U2 group has been formed as part of the United States Government's efforts to re-energize and revitalize American alliances all over the world.
  • According to the US State Department, India, Israel, and the UAE are technology hubs and there are a variety of areas where these countries can work together.
  • They also pointed out that India is a big consumer market and is also a large manufacturer of high-tech and highly sought-after goods. So, there are a number of areas where these countries can work together, whether its technology, trade, climate, COVID-19, and potentially even security as well.

About the summit of the I2U2 grouping:

  • The first virtual meeting of Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and President Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE will be during US President Joe Biden travel to this region from July 13-16, 2022.
  • The leaders of the four countries amongst the other things will discuss areas of cooperation humanitarian aid and food security issues that countries are battling with after the conflict in Ukraine began in February this year.
  • There will also be engagements with nearly a dozen counterparts from across the region and beyond.

Background:

  • The grouping of the four nations- India, Israel, United Arab Emirates, and the United States met for the first time under a new framework in October 2021.
  • The meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries took place during External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s visit to Israel.
  • At that time, the grouping of the four-nation was called ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’.

This time, the meeting between the grouping of four nations will take place at the level of the heads of government/state- an upgrade.

  • The grouping dealt with the issues concerning maritime security, infrastructure, digital infrastructure, and transport.

What is I2U2?

  • I2U2 is the new grouping formed by four nations- India, Israel, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates.
  • The countries share a number of global challenges in common, including the food security crisis and defence, which will be a focus of the four-nation meeting.

India and I2U2:

India's decision to form a new bloc with the US, the UAE, and Israel reflected its intention to use the Abraham Accords to strengthen its relations with Israel without jeopardizing its relationships with the UAE and other Arab states.

Note: India is well positioned globally. It has a presence across most nations through various groupings like Quad, BRICS, ASEAN, G20.India has also been invited for G7 which Germany is hosting later this month.

Way Finding Application: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved the proposal for signing of an agreement between the Government of Indian and the United Nations on a ‘Way Finding Application’ to be used in the Palais des Nations, United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).

About Way Finding Application:

  • Project of development of ‘Way Finding Application’ has been conceptualized as donation from the Government of India (GoI) to UN on the occasion of its 75th anniversary in 2020.
  • The project consists of development deployment and maintenance of a software-based ‘Way Finding Application’ to facilitate navigation in the Palais des Nations premises of UNLG.
  • The estimated financial implication for development deployment and maintenance of the App is $ 2 Million.
  • The App will work on Android and iOS devices with an internet connection.
  • It will enable users to find their way from point to point within the 21 floors spread across five buildings of UNOG.   
  • The development of the App has been entrusted to Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), an autonomous telecom Research & Development centre of Department of Telecommunications (DoT), GoI.

United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG):

  • The United Nations (UN) is an international organization founded in 1945. 
  • It is currently made up of 193 Member States. 
  • India is a founding member of the United Nations.
  • The United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) is located at Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It serves as the representative office of the Secretary-General in Geneva.
  • It is the biggest department of the United Nations Secretariat outside of headquarters in New York.

What is the purpose of the UNOG Way Finding Application?

  • UNOG consists of five buildings and 21 floors. A large number of delegates visit UNOG to participate in various meetings and conventions.
  • Keeping in view the complexity of buildings and huge participation, there was a requirement of a navigational application which can help the visitors and other delegates in finding their way inside the premises while adhering to all security perspectives.
  •  
  • While the Global Positioning System (GPS) based Apps function in open space, a more precise in-building navigational App will assist the visitors in locating the room and offices.

Significance of this contribution by India to the UN:

  • The project will be significant contribution from the Government of India to UN. 
  • The project would not only demonstrate India's technical ability, but it will also enhance the country's profile at the United Nations.
  • The App will make India’s presence felt in the UN and showcase its soft power in the form of strong software technology expertise – a ‘Made in India’ App for the mobiles who come from across the globe.

Fair Repair Act: The U.S. state of New York recently passed the Fair Repair Act.

Key Points:

  • According US’s Fair Repair Act, manufacturers must provide repair manuals, equipment, and supplies to independent repair shops and not just their own stores or partners.
  • This provides consumers with the right to repair and refurbish their purchased goods.
  • Independent repair businesses will finally be able to compete with manufacturers if they have access to the necessary tools and service instructions.
  • The rationale behind the “right to repair” is that the individual who purchases a product must own it completely.
  • This means that buyers must have the ability to fix and change the product however they see fit in addition to being able to utilize it.

What are the concerns of the manufacturers?

  • While right to repair is a victory for consumer rights, privacy, security and quality concerns along with blatant intellectual property (IP) rights violations of the manufacturers cannot be sidelined.
  • Manufacturers claim that allowing user and outsider repairs could have a negative impact on the product's quality and functionality.
  • They are so terrified that they include terms in the warranty that expire when the device is fixed by a third party.

Right To Repair in India:

  • Monopoly in the repair industry violates the 2019 Consumer Protection Act's "freedom to chose" for customers.
  • Consumer disputes jurisprudence in the country has also partially acknowledged the right to repair.

For instance - In India, currently, there’s no legislation or any provision dealing with ‘Right to Repair’ but in Shamsher Kataria v Honda Siel Cars India Ltd (2017)the Competition Commission of India ruled that restricting the access of independent automobile repair units to spare parts by way of an end-user license agreement was anti-competitive.

Provisions in Other Countries:

Many nations have taken steps, implemented regulations, and even attempted to enact laws that recognises the "right to repair" to reduce electronic waste. Some jurisdictions offer limited scope for exercising the right to repair.

  • The UK also introduced the path-breaking “right to repair” which came into force on July 1, 2021 that made mandatory for manufacturers to make spares available to both consumers and third-party repair technicians.
  • The remaining European nations will abide by EU laws and rules.
  • The manufacturers have two years to make the necessary changes and follow the new laws.
  • The legislation is considered as a positive step in minimizing e-waste by encouraging gadget repair instead of dumping in the scrap.
  • The Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act, 2012 requires automobile manufacturers to provide spare parts and diagnostics to buyers and even independent third-party mechanics.
  • France requires manufacturers to display a repairability index on their products which consists of five parameters.
  • This helps consumers understand whether the products are repairable, difficult to repair or not repairable at all.
  • The duration of imposing product liability may differ depending on the product and its longevity.

Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference: The WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) took place from 12 to 17 June 2022 at WTO headquarters in Geneva.

Key Highlights of the meeting:

  • The meeting took place after a gap of almost five years.
  • The Conference was co-hosted by Kazakhstan and chaired by Mr Timur Suleimenov, Deputy Chief of Staff of Kazakhstan's President.
  • Kazakhstan was originally scheduled to host MC12 in June 2020 but the conference was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Ministers from across the world attended to review the functioning of the multilateral trading system, to make general statements and to take action on the future work of the WTO.
  • Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal led the Indian delegation in the Conference.
  • The Opening Session of the Conference took place on Sunday 12 June.
  • Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, addressed the opening ceremony of the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference.
  • On 13-14 June, thematic sessions were held on particular areas of WTO activities.
  • These were followed at the end of each day by a meeting of heads of delegations.
  • On 15 June, the conference was extended by a day to facilitate outcomes on the main issues under discussion.
  • The conference concluded successfully on 17 June, with agreement on a package of key trade initiatives.

Key areas of discussions and negotiations:

  • The key areas of discussions and negotiations in this year’s conference included WTO’s response to the pandemic, TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver for COVID-19 vaccines, Fisheries subsidies negotiations and Agriculture issues including Public Stockholding for Food security as well as the WTO’s reform and its future work priorities.

Regarding intellectual property, India seeked:

 

i.A recognition of the difficulties faced by developing countries and LDCs in utilising TRIPS flexibilities to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

ii.A reaffirmation of the TRIPS waiver decision under the responses’ declaration.

India is a founding member of the WTO since 1 January 1995 and a member of GATT since 8 July 1948.

What is the WTO and the Ministerial Conference?

  • The World Trade Organization is the only international organization that deals with the rules of trade between countries.
  • It was founded in 1995.
  • It is run by its 164 members. According to its rules, all decisions are taken through consensus and any member can exercise a veto.
  • Its aim is to promote free trade, which is done through trade agreements that are discussed and signed by the member states.
  • It also provides a forum for countries to negotiate trade rules and settle economic disputes between them.

The Ministerial Conference is the WTO’s top decision-making body and usually meets every two years. All members of the WTO are involved in the MC and they can take decisions on all matters covered under any multilateral trade agreements.

General Major Bajram Begaj: Albania’s parliament recently elected a top military official, General Major Bajram Begaj as its new president.

Key Highlights:

  • He was elected as the President as no candidates were nominated in three rounds of voting.
  • The outgoing President Ilir Meta signed the decree on Begaj’s dismissal as Chief of General Staff of the AAF.
  • Earlier, Bajram Begaj held the post of the Chief of General Staff of the Albanian Armed Forces (AAF).
  • He is Albania’s 8th president and the 3rd from the military ranks.
  • Bajram Begaj will take oath as the new president on 25th July 2022 to replace the current president ‘Ilir Meta’, who will remain in office until 22nd July 2022.

About Albania:

  • Albania, officially the Republic of Albania is a country in Southeastern Europe.
  • It is located on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas within the Mediterranean Sea.
  • It shares land borders with Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovoto the northeast, North Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south.
  • The capital of Albania isTirana.
  • The currency used here is Albanian lek.
  • The current Prime Minister of Albania is Edi Rama.

India-Russia Deal: A large-scale contract for the supply of radio equipment has been signed by Radio technical Systems (RTS) of Russia with the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Key Points:

  • The contract comes amid the war in Ukraine and pressure from the West on India to diversify its dependence for defence needs.
  • The Russian company will manufacture 34 sets of instrument landing system (ILS) 734 for the modernisation of 24 airports in India.
  • The domestic manufacturer received the right to conclude a contract based on the results of a global tender, in which, in addition to RTS, the world’s largest suppliers of radio equipment took part.
  • According to the contract, the first part of landing systems ILS-734 is scheduled to be shipped before November.
  • Payments within the transaction will be carried out in national currencies.

Russian Language Day 2022: The UN Russian Language Day is observed on 06 June annually.

  • UN Russian Language Day coincides with the birthday of Aleksandr Pushkin on June 6, a Russian poet considered the father of modern Russian literature.
  • The famous Russian poet, playwright, and novelist was born on June 6th, 1799 in Moscow.

History:

  • The event was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010.
  • The initiative of the UN Language Days was launched in February 2010 in order to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity and to promote equal use of all six of the UN's official working languages throughout the organization.
  • The six official languages ​​of the UN are English, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and French.

About Russian Language:

  • Russian is a Slavic language, whose closest relatives are Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Rusyn (Ukraine and Slovenia).
  • In the 19th century, what we now classify as modern Russian was known as “Great Russian,” Belarusian was called “White Russian” and Ukrainian was “Little Russian.”
  • Today over 170 million people speak Russian.
  • It is one of the six official languages used by the United Nations throughout the Organization.

World Accreditation Day 2022: World Accreditation Day (WAD) is celebrated on 9 June every year across the globe.

  • The initiative to celebrate this day was initiated by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).

Theme for WAD 2022:

  • This year the theme for World Accreditation Day 2022 is “Accreditation: Sustainability in Economic Growth and the Environment.”
  • The theme aims to draw attention to how accreditation and conformity assessment can find solutions for global issues.

Significance of Accreditation:

  • Accreditation plays a key role in supporting the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • It aims to meet objectives such as increasing trade and addressing environmental, health and safety concerns.
  • It also improves the general overall quality of output in an economy.

History of WAD:

  • World Accreditation Day (WAD) was first accepted in 2007 by the Joint General Assembly of both the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).
  • The first celebration of World Accreditation Day took place on 9th June 2008.

WAD in India:

  • In India, this day is celebrated by the Quality Council of India (QCI).
  • In addition, webinars are organized by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories and the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies.

According to FSSAI, the following are the current requirements regarding accreditation in India:

  1. Proficiency test
  2. Rapid test kit development
  3. Integrated system for the exchange of information
  4. Rapid test kit for food analysis
  5. Accreditation scheme to certify products
  6. The number of recognized reference material producers should be increased
  7. India also needs to institutionalize virtual assessment.

About Quality Council of India (QCI):

  • Quality Council of India was established in 1997.
  • The main objective of QCI is to establish quality standards in all social and economic sectors in the country.
  • It was established as a public-private partnership based on the Netherlands model.
  • It was established by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
  • The key promoters of QCI are CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), and FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry).

Imp. Takeaways:

  • International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) was founded on October 1977.
  • International Accreditation Forum (IAF) was founded on 28 January 1993.

India-Senegal MoUs: India and Senegal have signed three MoUs for cultural exchange, cooperation in youth matters and visa-free regime for officials.

Key Highlights

  • Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, who is on his 3-nation tour of Gabon, Senegal and Qatar, from 30th May to 7th June signed the MoUs after delegation-level talks between Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and President of Senegal Macky Sall in the capital city of Dakar.
  • Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu reached Senegal (West Africa on June 2, 2022, and led delegation level talks with President of Senegal (H.E. Mr Macky Sall).
  • During the talks, Mr. Naidu assured India’s continued commitment to Senegal, in a bid to support socio-economic development of Senegal by means of bilateral, regional and international frameworks.
  • He also visited the Monument of African Renaissance in Dakar, Senegal
  • The monumental structure made of bronze & copper stands tall at 52 meters and symbolises the ‘dignity of the African continent as well as its vision of a better future.
  • He paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at the African Renaissance Monument, following which the Vice President also visited the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar.

About the signed MoUs:

The first MoU signed is related to visa-free regime for Diplomatic and Official passport holders.

This would help in strengthening the cooperation between both the countries by providing seamless travel of officials or diplomats.

The second MoU is related to renewal of Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) for year 2022-26.

The third MoU is related to enhancing bilateral cooperation in youth matters.

India–Senegal relations:

  • India and Senegal share close and cordial relations since 1960, after Senegal gained independence from France.
  • India has an embassy in Dakar since 1962 and Senegal in New Delhi. People-to-people interactions, however, are scarce as there are just about 300 people operating enterprises or working on projects being carried out in Senegal using lines of credit supplied by India.
  • In the recent years trade and investment between both the countries have been increasing steadily.
  • Both the countries share common values of democracy, development and secularism.
  • Senegal supports India’s quest for membership in Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Trade and Investment:

  • India imports Phosphates and iron scrap from Senegal, while it exports food items, textiles, automobiles and pharmaceuticals.
  • One of Senegal's main trading partners is India.
  • Senegal imports rolling stock from India, for its railways.
  • India has invested in several sectors in Senegal, including textiles, manufacturing and chemicals.

India-Senegal Cultural Relations:

  • Senegal is said to be the most indophile nation in West Africa.
  • It is highly influenced by several Indian cultural institutions like Hindi cinema, concept of caste and outcastes.
  • There exists several Indo-Senegalese film clubs and friendship societies. Indian music and cuisine are popular in Senegal.
  • Akon, the Senegalese singer became a sensation in India.

About Senegal:

  • Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa.
  • It is a unitary presidential republic and is the westernmost country in the mainland of the Old World, or Afro-Eurasia.
  • It owes its name to the Senegal River, which borders it to the east and north. 
  • Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest.
  • Senegal's economic and political capital is Dakar.
  • The currency used here is West African CFA franc.
  • The current President of Senegal is Macky Sall.

Türkiye: Turkey will now be known as Türkiye at the United Nations, after the intergovernmental body agreed to a formal request for the name change from Ankara.

Key Points:

  • United Nations (UN) had received a request from Ankara in May 2022.
  • Acceptance of this name change at UN marks the start of similar process of adoption by similar bodies and international organisations.
  • Process of rebranding countries’ name
  • The process of rebranding the name started in the year 2021.
  • In December 2021, the country’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement saying that the name Turkiye represents and expresses the culture, civilisation, and values of Turkish nation in the best way.
  • Local people refer the country as Turkiye, but internationally, its anglicised version “Turkey” was adopted.

Reason for the name change:

  • According to a report by state broadcaster TRT, ‘Turkey’ word was adopted after country’s independence in 1923.
  • Over the centuries,, Europeans have referred Ottoman state and Turkiye by many names.
  • But the name that has stuck most is the Latin “Turquia” and the more ubiquitous “Turkey,
  • Thus, country’s government was not happy with the Google search results for the word ‘Turkey’.
  • Some results included a large bird which is served for Christmas meals and Thanksgiving in North America.
  • Furthermore, government also objected Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of “turkey”, meaning “a stupid silly person” or “something that fails badly”.
  •  

Re-branding Campaign:

  • The government of Turkey has started re-branding campaign.
  • It will start featuring “Made in Türkiye” on all exported products. The government has also launched a tourism campaign with “Hello Türkiye” as the tag line.

Following are the names of some countries that have changed their name.

Few more countries have changed their names earlier, either to drop colonial legacies or rebrand, as is the case with Turkey. For instance,

  • Macedonia changed its name to North Macedonia because of political disputes with Greece.
  • The Netherlands was changed from Holland.
  • Siam changed its name to Thailand.
  • Iran changed its name from Persia in 1935.
  • Rhodesia changed its name to Zimbabwe.

About Türkiye:

  • Turkey (renamed Türkiye), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan peninsula in Southeastern Europe.
  • Türkiye is bordered on its northwest by Greece and Bulgaria, north by the Black Sea, northeast by Georgia, east by Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran, southeast by Iraq, south by Syria and the Mediterranean Sea, and west by the Aegean Sea.
  • Ankara is the capital of Türkiye.
  • The currency used here is Turkish lira.
  • The current President of Türkiye is Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Freeze Handgun Ownership: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled new legislation that would implement “some of the harshest gun control measures” in decades.

Key Points:

  • The legislation also includes a “freeze” on the country’s handgun purchases and sales.
  • It will be illegal to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada.
  • The bill would also allow for the removal of gun licenses from people involved in acts of domestic violence or criminal harassment, such as stalking.
  • It would create a new red flag law allowing courts to require that people considered a danger to themselves or others surrender their firearms to police.
  • Magazines that hold more than five rounds will also be banned under the new laws.
  • The measure would guard the safety of those applying through the process, often women in danger of domestic abuse, by protecting their identities.
  • Trudeau cited a succession of mass shootings in Canada over the years, as well as recent assaults in the United States, as part of his government’s motivation to propose Bill C-21 during a press conference in Ottawa.

Gun ownership in Canada:

  • Canada has stronger gun ownership laws than the United States.
  • In Canada, gun ownership is a privilege not a right.

About Canada:

  • Canada is a country in North America.
  • The word Canada is derived from the Huron-Iroquois kanata, meaning a village or settlement.
  • It is the second largest country in the world in area (after Russia), occupying roughly the northern two-fifths of the continent of North America.
  • Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border.
  • Canada's capital is Ottawa.
  • The currency used here is Canadian dollar.

International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression: Every year on June 4th, the United Nations (UN) observes the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression to raise awareness of the children who have been victims of physical, mental, and emotional abuse around the Globe.

Key Facts:

  • It is also an incentive to recommit the international community to the goal of ending all forms of violence against children
  • On this day, the United Nations reaffirms its commitment to preserve children’s rights.

Support related U.N. resolutions and programs:

  • The United Nations, through the U.N.O.D.C., has several initiatives like the Global Programme to End Violence Against Children, which supports and assists its member states.
  • The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states how to effectively prevent and respond to violence against children and lays out a master plan to secure a better future for children.

History:

  • United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided under the resolution ES-7/8 that June 4 would be observed each year.
  • The war that led to the enactment of the Convention on Child Rights and ultimately the founding of the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression started in June 1982 when Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon after repeated attacks and counterattacks between Palestine Liberation Organisation and Israel Defense Forces (IDF). 
  • The invasion was carried out after the assassination attempt of Israeli ambassador.
  • The four-month war led the United Nations General Assembly to enact and adopt a Resolution on the Rights of the Child in 1997.

Significance:

  • Though the first-ever International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression was focused on victims of Lebanon war its scope was widened to “acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse”
  • This day affirms United Nations’ commitment towards protecting children and their rights.

World Milk Day 2022: World Milk Day is being celebrated annually on 1st June since 2001 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

Key Points:

  • World Milk Day is a day dedicated to recognising the value of milk and milk products.
  • It's also a day to raise awareness about the dairy sector's issues.

Theme for 2022:

  • The theme of World Milk Day 2022 is to bring attention to the climate change crisis and how the dairy sector can reduce its impact on the planet.
  • The aim is to achieve ‘Dairy Net Zero’ by reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years and improving waste management in order to make the dairy sector sustainable.

Significance:

  • The day highlights the benefits of milk for human health and its valuable nutrients.
  • It is not only consumed by growing infants but also by people of all age groups.
  • It is an important part of our daily diet.
  • It has great nourishing value and is a rich source of calcium, protein, and fat, etc.
  • Mainly we get milk from cows, buffaloes, and from other animals like sheep, goats, and camels.

Key Takeaway:

About FAO:

  • FAO refers to The Food and Agricultural Organization.
  • The FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security.
  • Its Latin motto, fiat panis, translates to "let there be bread".
  • It was founded on 16 October 1945..
  • It completed 75 years of service to humanity on 16th Oct 2020.
  • The FAO is headquartered in Rome, Italy.
  • It is composed of 197 member states.
  • It is governed by a biennial conference representing each member country and the European Union, which elects a 49-member executive council.

Initiatives of FAO:

  • World Food Summits are convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • The first food summit, the "World Food Conference", took place in Rome in 1974.
  • The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is a 1951 multilateral treaty overseen by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

5th BIMSTEC Summit: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 30 March 2022 participated in the 5th BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) Summit.

Highlights:

  • The 5th BIMSTEC Summit was hosted in virtual mode by Sri Lanka, the current chair of BIMSTEC.
  • Prior to this, preparatory meetings at the Foreign Minister and Senior Official levels were held on the 28th and 29th of March.
  • The summit concluded in Colombo.

Theme of the Summit:

The theme of the summit was “Towards a Resilient Region, Prosperous Economies, Healthy People.”

This theme captures the main current priorities of member states, and the efforts by BIMSTEC to develop cooperation activities that support member state’s programmes to deal with the economic and development consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Points of the Summit:

  • The adoption and signing of the BIMSTEC Charter, which formalizes the grouping into an organization made up of member states that are littoral to and dependent on the Bay of Bengal, was the main outcome of the Summit.
  • Under this Charter, the members were expected to meet once in every two years.
  • With the Charter, the BIMSTEC now has an international personality.
  • It has an emblem, it has a flag.
  • It has a formally listed purpose and principles that it is going to adhere to.
  • It represents significant evolution of the grouping.
  • The BIMSTEC leaders also witnessed the signing of three different BIMSTEC agreements, which demonstrate the group's success in ongoing collaboration efforts. The agreements that were signed are:

1.A BIMSTEC MoU on mutual cooperation for diplomatic training

2.A BIMSTEC convention on mutual legal assistance related to criminal matters

3.A MoA on the establishment of the BIMSTEC technology transfer facility.

  • The summit saw the declaration of the Master Plan for Transport Connectivity that would provide a framework for regional and domestic connectivity.
  • India will also provide USD 1 million to the BIMSTEC secretariat to assist it expand its operational budget.
  • The BIMSTEC scholarship programme, which is sponsored by Nalanda International University, has also been expanded.
  • The BIMSTEC connection agenda made progress as well, with the adoption of the 'Master Plan for Transport Connectivity.'
  • This plan sets out a framework for all connectivity-related initiatives that will be implemented in the near future in this region.
  • The PM Modi called for a Free Trade Agreement among the member countries.
  • He mentioned the necessity for coastal shipping ecosystem and electricity grid interconnectivity, as two of the necessary components of the evolving shape of the BIMSTEC.

About BIMSTEC:

  • BIMSTEC is acronym for “Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation”.
  • It is a regional multilateral organization established on June 6, 1997 in Bangkok under the name BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation). 
  • Myanmar was included to it in 1997 following which group was renamed as ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
  • After Nepal & Bhutan become full members in 2004, BIMSTEC was renamed to its current form.

Members of BIMSTEC:

  • Seven members of BIMSTEC are littoral and adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal constituting a regional unity.
  • 5 are South Asian countries namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal & Sri Lanka while 2 countries- Myanmar & Thailand- are from Southeast Asia.

Aim of BIMSTEC:

  • BIMSTEC connects South and Southeast Asia besides ecologies of Great Himalayas and Bay of Bengal.
  • It was established with the aims of creating an enabling environment for rapid economic development and accelerating social progress.

Mes Aynak Site: The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has stated that it will safeguard the ancient Buddha statues in Mes Aynak, which is also home to a copper mine that the Taliban is attempting to attract Chinese investment.

Key Points:

  • The Taliban's current posture contrasts sharply with their previous leadership in Afghanistan, when they used artillery, explosives, and rockets to destroy centuries-old Buddha sculptures in Bamiyan.
  • The leadership's apparent change of heart on the Mes Aynak monuments appears to be motivated by economic considerations, with the dictatorship in desperate need of the revenue that Chinese investment in copper mines may provide.

About Mes Aynak Site:

  • Mes Aynak is a site that is located 40 km southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan.
  • It is located in the Logar Province’s barren region.
  • Mes Aynak contains Afghanistan's largest copper deposit.
  • The remains of an ancient settlement with over 400 Buddha statues, stupas and a 40 ha (100 acres) monastery complex are also found in this region.
  • Artifacts that date back to the Bronze Age, with some dating back over 3000 years have been recovered at this site.
  • This site possesses a vast complex of Buddhist monasteries, homes, and market areas.
  • Discovered in the 1960s by French geologists, the site was believed to have been an important stop along the Silk Road from the early centuries AD.
  • The site's orientation on the Silk Road has yielded a mixture of elements from China and India.
  • In 1973-74, the archaeological wealth of this site was discovered by Afghan and Russian geologists.

History of this site:

  • Between the 5th and 7th century AD, Mes Aynak was at the peak of its prosperity. 
  • Alchon Hun monarchs Khingila and Mehama's coins were discovered here, confirming the Alchon presence in the area between 450 and 500 CE.
  • The settlement's slow decline began in the 8th Century and it was abandoned 200 years later.
  • During the 10th century, the city was ruled by Brahman Shahi, the king of Kabul, Jaypaldeva.
  • However, it was later burned to ashes by a Gaznavaid invasion.
  • Once the walls were destroyed, it was easy for the Gaznavi to travel across Hindi Kush and invade mainland India.
  • The citizens of Mes Aynak generally followed Buddhism and Hinduism equally.
  • The earliest Buddhist remains date from the Kushan era, although this gradually gave way to T'ang Chinese and Uyghur influences.

Etymology:

  • The word Mes Aynak literally means "little source of copper"; mes is "copper", while aynak is a diminutive form of ayn which means "source".

About Afghanistan:

  • Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country in Asia.
  • It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north; and China to the northeast.
  • Its Capital is Kabul.
  • The currency used here is the Afghan afghani.

Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act: The President of the US Joe Biden recently signed a law that makes lynching a hate crime in the United States of America.

Key Details:

  • This bill was earlier passed unanimously by the Senate of the US in March 2022.
  • In the House of Representatives this bill was passed by a vote of 422-3.
  • The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year old African American whose brutal murder in Mississippi galvanized the US civil rights movement in the 1950s.

About the law:

  • Under this law, a crime can be prosecuted as a lynching if a conspiracy to commit a hate crime results in death or significant physical injury.
  • It also specifies a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison as well as fines that are to be levied.

Background:

  • The first anti-lynching legislation was first considered by the US Congress over 120 years ago.
  • Until March of 2022, they had failed to pass similar legislation around 200 times.
  • The bill was first introduced in the year 1900 by George Henry White, then North Carolina Rep who was the only Black member of the Cogress at that time.

About the crime that started the movement in US:

  • Emmett Till, 14, had traveled from his Chicago home to visit relatives in Mississippi in 1955 when it was alleged that he whistled at a white woman.
  • He was kidnapped, beaten and shot in the head.
  • A large metal fan was tied to his neck with barbed wire, and his body was thrown into a river.
  • His murder and the dismissal of the charges by an all-white jury against the two white men who committed the crime started a movement in the country.
  • After the two men confessed to the murder, public attention was drawn to the brutality endured by the country's African American communities, and a civil rights rallying cry was born.

India and Maldives: The External Affairs Minister of India Dr. S Jaishankar recently engaged in the review of the progress of various areas of bilateral cooperation between India and Maldives.

He was on a two-day official visit to the Maldives till March 27.

Key Points:

  • During the visit, he inaugurated the National College of Policing and Law Enforcement (NCPLE) in Addu City in the southernmost atoll of the Indian Ocean archipelago that was established under Indian grant assistance.
  • The establishment of the police academy had, till recently, been India’s largest grant-funded project prior to the Greater Male Connectivity Project for which India extended a $400 million line of credit in 2020.
  • Furthermore, an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed between the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA), the prestigious training institute in Hyderabad, and the Maldives Police Service.

Significance:

  • The Maldives is one of India's key maritime neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region and occupy a special place in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of 'SAGAR' (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and Neighbourhood First.
  • SAGAR or "Security and Growth for all in the Region" is aimed at cooperative measures for sustainable use of the oceans in the region.
  • On the domestic level in the Maldives, the training academy would help strengthen law enforcement abilities to counter drug trafficking and growing Radicalisation, a major concern in the country.
  • Defence security cooperation between India and the Maldives has been happening for some time now and a large number of their personnel travel overseas for training, including to India.
  • The Colombo Security Conclave, a trilateral maritime security grouping of India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, where intelligence sharing is also a part of this trilateral security cooperation.

About Maldives:

  • The Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small island nation in South Asia.
  • It is situated in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean.
  • It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India.
  • The Capital of Maldives is Male.
  • The Currency of the Maldives is the Maldivian Rufiyaa.
  • The current President of the Maldives is Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Sri Lanka Economic Crisis: The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa has resigned on May 9, 2022 from his position amid the ongoing economic crisis in the country.

Key Details:

  • The resignation was accepted, according to a gazette notification, and consequently, the Cabinet stands dissolved as per the Sri Lankan Constitution.
  • 76 year old Rajapaksa sent his resignation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after violent scenes were witnessed in Colombo.
  • Rajapaksa's resignation from the post has come days after President Gotbaya Rajapaksa in a special meeting requested the PM to step down as a solution to the ongoing political and economic crisis in Sri Lanka.
  • With the resignation of the Sri Lankan PM, the Health Minister of Sri Lanka Prof Channa Jayasumana also handed over his letter of resignation to the President of the country.
  • Now, the Sri Lankan President Gotbaya Rajapaksa is expected to invite all the political parties in the Parliament to form an all-party cabinet.

Sri Lanka Economic Crisis:

  • Sri Lanka is currently experiencing unparalleled economic turbulence since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1948.
  • Sri Lanka has been thrown into weeks of economic crisis as a result of a currency shortage, which has resulted in a dearth of vital goods such as food, fuel, and medications.

About Sri Lanka:

  • Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia.
  • It is located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea.
  • The capitals of Srilanka are Colombo and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
  • Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital while Colombo is the largest city and center of commerce.
  • The currency used here is Sri Lankan rupee.

New Leader of Hong Kong - John Lee: John Lee Ka-chiu, a former security chief who oversaw the crackdown on Hong Kong's democracy movement has recently been elected with 99.2% of the vote from the election committee as the next leader of Hong Kong.

Key Highlights:

  • This is widely interpreted as a move by the Chinese government to tighten its hold over the city.
  • John Lee is replacing Carrie Lam who had served since 2017.
  • From 1st July 2022, Lee will begin his five-year term as the city’s chief executive.
  • The leaders of Hong Kong are selected by a closed-circle committee of around 1,500 members, who are nearly all pro-Beijing loyalists.
  • However, this time there was only one contender for them to elect.

What role did Lee have in the violent crackdowns in 2019?

  • As per BBC, Lee, a former police officer who became Hong Kong's security chief, Lee helped push for the city's controversial extradition bill that aimed to facilitate the extradition of Hong Kong residents to China to face trial
  • As security chief, Lee was also responsible for the crackdown on the city's residents during the island's pro-democracy protests in 2019 and 2020.
  • During the unrest, water cannons, tear gas, and even live ammunition were used to disperse those demonstrating against the bill.

Why did the United States put economic sanctions against John Lee?

  • The US put economic sanctions against John Lee for being a key individual in charge of implementing a draconian national security law in Hong Kong that prosecutes those accused of colluding with foreign forces.
  • Under the law, Hong Kong has convicted democracy protesters of terrorism, arrested teenagers, and banned pro-democracy candidates from standing for election.

About Hong Kong:

  • Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR) is a city and special administrative region of China on the eastern Pearl River Delta in South China.
  • Hong Kong was transferred from Britain to China in 1997 under the agreement that rights such as freedom of assembly and freedom of speech would be guaranteed in the territory.
  • Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world.
  • It is also one of the three global financial centres and one of the most developed cities in the world.

Ranil Wickremesinghe: Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka’s veteran political leader has been appointed as the next Prime Minister of Sri Lanka amid the ongoing protests in the country.

Key Points:

  • President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed , 73-years old,  Ranil Wickremesinghe after the resignation of former PM Mahinda Rajapaksa.
  • He was administered the oath of office by the President, who in an address to the nation yesterday, declared that a Prime Minister and his cabinet will be put in place this week.
  • Wickremesinghe, who has already served as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka five times,  appeared to be the only option as the crisis-hit island nation’s largest opposition party had refused to join a government headed by a member of Rajapaksa clan.
  • He accepted the post after securing the support of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

Sri Lanka Economic Crisis:

  • Sri Lanka was already reeling from a crippling economic crisis due to widespread shortages of food and fuel, soaring prices of essential commodities and hours-long power cut.
  • Groups of pro and anti-government activists clashed in Colombo, triggering curfew and a state of emergency across the island.
  • Further, the country was thrown into upheaval on May 9 when former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned amid the crisis, effectively ending the country's elected government.
  • Anti-government protesters also want President Rajapaksa to step down and the Lankan parliament is expected to debate a no-confidence motion against the President on May 17, 2022.

Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity: India recently agreed to be a part of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) a US-led trade initiative comprising 12 countries.

Key Highlights:

  • The IPEF meant to counter China’s aggressive expansion in the region was launched by United States President Joe Biden on May 23 in Tokyo, Japan.
  • The IPEF seeks to strengthen economic partnership amongst participating countries with the objective of enhancing resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness, and competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • India joined a dozen other nations to launch the IPEF.
  • Apart from India, other countries backing the initiative are Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, and the members jointly account for 40% of the global GDP.
  • The economic framework broadly rests on four pillars. They are -

1.Fair and resilient trade (including digital, labour, environmental and other standards);

2.Supply chain resilience;

3.Infrastructure, decarbonisation and clean energy; and

4.Tax and anti-corruption.

  • The framework of IPEF has been designed prioritising “flexibility and inclusion”.
  • So participating countries can join IPEF without necessarily joining all the four pillars of the framework, which is also in India’s interest.
  • A Joint Statement was issued on the occasion, which highlights the key elements envisaged within the IPEF.

Highlights of PM Modi's speech:

  • PM Modi, in his comments during the launch ceremony, said that the announcement of IPEF is a declaration of a collective desire to make the Indo-Pacific region an engine of global economic growth.
  • He also said that India has historically been at the centre of trade flows in the Indo-Pacific region, having the world’s oldest commercial port in Lohtal, Gujarat.
  • He called for finding common and creative solutions to tackle economic challenges of the Indo-Pacific region.
  • He expressed India’s commitment towards working with all Indo-Pacific countries for an IPEF which is both inclusive and flexible.
  • He underlined that the foundation of resilient supply chains must be 3T’s – Trust, Transparency and Timeliness.

 

Current International Events - June 2022

Pakistan PM Imran Khan ousted in no-trust vote: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed from office through a no-confidence vote held in the early hours of April 10, 2022.

Key Details:

  • He has become the first premier in the country’s history to be removed through a no-confidence motion.
  • The joint Opposition – a rainbow of socialist, liberal and radically religious parties – secured the support of 174 members in the 342-member National Assembly, more than the needed strength of 172 to oust  Prime Minister  on a day full of drama and multiple adjournments of the lower house.
  • No Prime Minister in Pakistan’s history was ever ousted through a no-confidence motion.
  • Also, no Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office.
  • Earlier, two separate no-trust motions failed respectively against former Premiers Benazir Bhutto in 1989 and Shaukat Aziz in 2006.
  • Mr. Khan, 69, was not present in the Lower House at the time of voting.
  • The removal of Mr. Khan has set in motion the process to elect the new leader of the House.
  • The combined Opposition has already named Shehbaz Sharif, president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as joint candidate.

Background:

  • The opposition had filed the no-confidence motion on March 8, setting a set of events leading to the day of voting and rise in the tension due to Khan’s insistence that he was being targeted as part of a “foreign conspiracy” with the collaboration of top opposition leaders.
  • Mr. Khan, who came to power in 2018 with promises to create a ‘Naya Pakistan’.
  • He was dogged by claims of economic mismanagement as his government battled depleting foreign exchange reserves and double-digit inflation.
  • Khan appears to have lost the backing of the strong Army after he refusing to endorse the appointment of the ISI spy agency chief in 2021.
  • He eventually agreed, but it strained his relationship with the powerful Army, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 75-year history and wielded significant power in security and foreign affairs.
  • PM Khan also lost majority last month after some of the coalition partners decided to part ways while several dissidents openly defied his authority.

About Imran Khan:

  • Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi born 5 October 1952 is a Pakistani politician and former cricketer who served as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan from 2018 to 2022.
  • He is considered one of cricket's greatest all-rounders.
  • Khan scored 3,807 runs and took 362 wickets in Test cricket and was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.
  • He began his international cricket career at age 18, in a 1971 Test series against England.
  • Khan played until 1992, served as the team's captain intermittently between 1982 and 1992, and won the 1992 Cricket World Cup, in what is Pakistan's first and only victory in the competition.
  • He founded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996, which won a seat in the National Assembly in 2002, and saw Khan serve as an opposition member from Mianwali until 2007.
  • In the 2018 general election, running on a populist platform, PTI emerged as the largest party in the National Assembly, and formed a coalition government with independents with Khan as Prime Minister.

World Health Day: Every year 7th April marks the celebration of World Health Day.

Key Highlights:

  • It is being celebrated to mark the foundation of the World Health Organization (WHO) on 7th April 1948.
  • Its idea was conceived at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and it came into effect in 1950.
  • Every year, World Health Day focuses on contemporary health issues that require immediate attention, with varied themes.

Theme for 2022:

  • The theme for World Health Day 2022 is "Our Planet, Our Health".
  • The main focus of this year’s theme is to direct global attention toward the well-being of our planet and the humans living in it.

History of the day:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) convened the first World Health Assembly in 1948, which called for the establishment of a “World Health Day.”
  • The first World Health Day was held on April 7, 1950, and it has been observed on that date every year thereafter.

Objective:

  • The main goal of the day is to raise awareness about a certain health topic in order to highlight a World Health Organization priority area of concern.

About WHO:

  • WHO is an acronym for World Health Organization.
  • WHO was created on 7 April 1948 by member states of the United Nations (UN) as a specialized agency with a broad mandate for international public health.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The main objective of WHO is "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible standard of health."
  • It plays an essential role in the global governance of health and disease.
  • Its mission is to improve people's lives, to reduce the burdens of disease and poverty, and to provide access to responsive health care for all people.
  • The WHO is governed by two decision-making bodies. They are -

1.The World Health Assembly

2.The Executive Board.

  • The current Director-general of WHO is Tedros Adhanom.

Note:

  • The WHO has played a leading role in several public health achievements, most notably the eradication of smallpox, the near-eradication of polio, and the development of an Ebola vaccine.
  • Its priorities include communicable diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, Ebola, malaria and tuberculosis; non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and cancer; healthy diet, nutrition, and food security; occupational health; and substance abuse.  

Current International Events - April 2022

5th BIMSTEC Summit: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 30 March 2022 participated in the 5th BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) Summit.

Highlights:

  • The 5th BIMSTEC Summit was hosted in virtual mode by Sri Lanka, the current chair of BIMSTEC.
  • Prior to this, preparatory meetings at the Foreign Minister and Senior Official levels were held on the 28th and 29th of March.
  • The summit concluded in Colombo.

Theme of the Summit:

The theme of the summit was “Towards a Resilient Region, Prosperous Economies, Healthy People.”

This theme captures the main current priorities of member states, and the efforts by BIMSTEC to develop cooperation activities that support member state’s programmes to deal with the economic and development consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Points of the Summit:

  • The adoption and signing of the BIMSTEC Charter, which formalizes the grouping into an organization made up of member states that are littoral to and dependent on the Bay of Bengal, was the main outcome of the Summit.
  • Under this Charter, the members were expected to meet once in every two years.
  • With the Charter, the BIMSTEC now has an international personality.
  • It has an emblem, it has a flag.
  • It has a formally listed purpose and principles that it is going to adhere to.
  • It represents a significant evolution of the grouping.
  • The BIMSTEC leaders also witnessed the signing of three different BIMSTEC agreements, which demonstrate the group's success in ongoing collaboration efforts. The agreements that were signed are:

1.A BIMSTEC MoU on mutual cooperation for diplomatic training

2.A BIMSTEC convention on mutual legal assistance related to criminal matters

3.A MoA on the establishment of the BIMSTEC technology transfer facility.

  • The summit saw the declaration of the Master Plan for Transport Connectivity that would provide a framework for regional and domestic connectivity.
  • India will also provide USD 1 million to the BIMSTEC secretariat to assist it to expand its operational budget.
  • The BIMSTEC scholarship programme, which is sponsored by Nalanda International University, has also been expanded.
  • The BIMSTEC connection agenda made progress as well, with the adoption of the 'Master Plan for Transport Connectivity.'
  • This plan sets out a framework for all connectivity-related initiatives that will be implemented in the near future in this region.
  • PM Modi called for a Free Trade Agreement among the member countries.
  • He mentioned the necessity for a coastal shipping ecosystem and electricity grid interconnectivity, as two of the necessary components of the evolving shape of the BIMSTEC.

About BIMSTEC:

  • BIMSTEC is acronym for “Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation”.
  • It is a regional multilateral organization established on June 6, 1997 in Bangkok under the name BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation). 
  • Myanmar was included to it in 1997 following which group was renamed as ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
  • After Nepal & Bhutan become full members in 2004, BIMSTEC was renamed to its current form.

Members of BIMSTEC:

  • Seven members of BIMSTEC are littoral and adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal constituting a regional unity.
  • 5 are South Asian countries namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal & Sri Lanka while 2 countries- Myanmar & Thailand- are from Southeast Asia.

Aim of BIMSTEC:

  • BIMSTEC connects South and Southeast Asia besides ecologies of Great Himalayas and Bay of Bengal.
  • It was established with the aims of creating an enabling environment for rapid economic development and accelerating social progress.

Mes Aynak Site: The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has stated that it will safeguard the ancient Buddha statues in Mes Aynak, which is also home to a copper mine that the Taliban is attempting to attract Chinese investment.

Key Points:

  • The Taliban's current posture contrasts sharply with their previous leadership in Afghanistan, when they used artillery, explosives, and rockets to destroy centuries-old Buddha sculptures in Bamiyan.
  • The leadership's apparent change of heart on the Mes Aynak monuments appears to be motivated by economic considerations, with the dictatorship in desperate need of the revenue that Chinese investment in copper mines may provide.

About Mes Aynak Site:

  • Mes Aynak is a site that is located 40 km southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan.
  • It is located in the Logar Province’s barren region.
  • Mes Aynak contains Afghanistan's largest copper deposit.
  • The remains of an ancient settlement with over 400 Buddha statues, stupas and a 40 ha (100 acres) monastery complex are also found in this region.
  • Artifacts that date back to the Bronze Age, with some dating back over 3000 years have been recovered at this site.
  • This site possesses a vast complex of Buddhist monasteries, homes, and market areas.
  • Discovered in the 1960s by French geologists, the site was believed to have been an important stop along the Silk Road from the early centuries AD.
  • The site's orientation on the Silk Road has yielded a mixture of elements from China and India.
  • In 1973-74, the archaeological wealth of this site was discovered by Afghan and Russian geologists.

History of this site:

  • Between the 5th and 7th century AD, Mes Aynak was at the peak of its prosperity. 
  • Alchon Hun monarchs Khingila and Mehama's coins were discovered here, confirming the Alchon presence in the area between 450 and 500 CE.
  • The settlement's slow decline began in the 8th Century and it was abandoned 200 years later.
  • During the 10th century, the city was ruled by Brahman Shahi, the king of Kabul, Jaypaldeva.
  • However, it was later burned to ashes by a Gaznavaid invasion.
  • Once the walls were destroyed, it was easy for the Gaznavi to travel across Hindi Kush and invade mainland India.
  • The citizens of Mes Aynak generally followed Buddhism and Hinduism equally.
  • The earliest Buddhist remains date from the Kushan era, although this gradually gave way to T'ang Chinese and Uyghur influences.

Etymology:

  • The word Mes Aynak literally means "little source of copper"; mes is "copper", while aynak is a diminutive form of ayn which means "source".

About Afghanistan:

  • Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country in Asia.
  • It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north; and China to the northeast.
  • Its Capital is Kabul.
  • The currency used here is the Afghan afghani.

Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act: The President of the US Joe Biden recently signed a law that makes lynching a hate crime in the United States of America.

Key Details:

  • This bill was earlier passed unanimously by the Senate of the US in March 2022.
  • In the House of Representatives this bill was passed by a vote of 422-3.
  • The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year old African American whose brutal murder in Mississippi galvanized the US civil rights movement in the 1950s.

About the law:

  • Under this law, a crime can be prosecuted as a lynching if a conspiracy to commit a hate crime results in death or significant physical injury.
  • It also specifies a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison as well as fines that are to be levied.

Background:

  • The first anti-lynching legislation was first considered by the US Congress over 120 years ago.
  • Until March of 2022, they had failed to pass similar legislation around 200 times.
  • The bill was first introduced in the year 1900 by George Henry White, then North Carolina Rep who was the only Black member of the Cogress at that time.

About the crime that started the movement in US:

  • Emmett Till, 14, had traveled from his Chicago home to visit relatives in Mississippi in 1955 when it was alleged that he whistled at a white woman.
  • He was kidnapped, beaten and shot in the head.
  • A large metal fan was tied to his neck with barbed wire, and his body was thrown into a river.
  • His murder and the dismissal of the charges by an all-white jury against the two white men who committed the crime started a movement in the country.
  • After the two men confessed to the murder, public attention was drawn to the brutality endured by the country's African American communities, and a civil rights rallying cry was born.

India and Maldives: The External Affairs Minister of India Dr. S Jaishankar recently engaged in the review of the progress of various areas of bilateral cooperation between India and Maldives.

He was on a two-day official visit to the Maldives till March 27.

Key Points:

  • During the visit, he inaugurated the National College of Policing and Law Enforcement (NCPLE) in Addu City in the southernmost atoll of the Indian Ocean archipelago that was established under Indian grant assistance.
  • The establishment of the police academy had, till recently, been India’s largest grant-funded project prior to the Greater Male Connectivity Project for which India extended a $400 million line of credit in 2020.
  • Furthermore, an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed between the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA), the prestigious training institute in Hyderabad, and the Maldives Police Service.

Significance:

  • The Maldives is one of India's key maritime neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region and occupy a special place in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of 'SAGAR' (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and Neighbourhood First.
  • SAGAR or "Security and Growth for all in the Region" is aimed at cooperative measures for sustainable use of the oceans in the region.
  • On the domestic level in the Maldives, the training academy would help strengthen law enforcement abilities to counter drug trafficking and growing Radicalisation, a major concern in the country.
  • Defence security cooperation between India and the Maldives has been happening for some time now and a large number of their personnel travel overseas for training, including to India.
  • The Colombo Security Conclave, a trilateral maritime security grouping of India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, where intelligence sharing is also a part of this trilateral security cooperation.

About Maldives:

  • The Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small island nation in South Asia.
  • It is situated in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean.
  • It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India.
  • The Capital of Maldives is Male.
  • The Currency of the Maldives is the Maldivian Rufiyaa.
  • The current President of the Maldives is Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

 

Finlandization: The French President recently suggested that Finlandization might be a realistic outcome for Ukraine if and when the Russia-Ukraine war ends.

What is Finlandization?

  • Finlandization refers to the policy of strict neutrality between Moscow (Russia) and the West that Finland followed during the decades of the Cold War.
  • The principle of neutrality was rooted in the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance (or YYA Treaty) that Finland signed with the USSR in April 1948.
  • Article 1 of the treaty reads: “In the eventuality of Finland, or the Soviet Union through Finnish territory, becoming the object of an armed attack by Germany or any state allied with the latter (meaning, essentially, the United States), Finland will, true to its obligations as an independent state, fight to repel the attack.
  • Finland will in such cases use all its available forces for defending its territorial integrity by land, sea, and air, and will do so within the frontiers of Finland in accordance with obligations defined in the present agreement and, if necessary, with the assistance of or jointly with, the Soviet Union.
  • In such cases, the Soviet Union will give Finland the help that it requires, subject to mutual agreement between the contracting parties.

Ukraine and Finlandization:

  • Ukraine, formerly a part of the Soviet Union, has increasingly tilted toward the West, economically and politically, while resisting Russian influence.
  • In 2008, NATO said it planned eventually for Ukraine to join the alliance, a popular idea within the country, though it has never actually applied for membership and NATO officials say it would not happen any time soon.
  • “Finlandization” would allow Moscow a heavy hand in Ukrainian affairs.
  • It goes against what Ukraine has been striving for, that is joining NATO and the E.U.

What did Finland do when the Russian War ended?

  • The 1948 treaty formed the basis of Finland-Russia relations until 1992, when Finland signed a new agreement with post-Soviet Russia.
  • It lays at the heart of Finland’s foreign policy doctrine especially 1946 to 1982 and is known in international relations studies as the “Paasikivi-Kekkonen line”.
  • From the perspective of Finland — whose capital Helsinki is situated just across the Gulf of Finland from St Petersburg (Leningrad) — the treaty protected it from being attacked or incorporated into the USSR like the Baltic and eastern European states.
  • It allowed the country to pursue the path of democracy and capitalism while staying out of the conflict between the great powers.
  • Finland did not participate in the Marshall Plan. It took neutral positions on matters on which the Soviet Union and the West disagreed. It stayed aloof from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and European military powers, and used this positioning to ward off pressure from Moscow to become part of the Soviet bloc or the Warsaw Pact.
  • Marshall Plan was a U.S.-sponsored program designed to rehabilitate the economies of 17 western and southern European countries in order to create stable conditions in which democratic institutions could survive in the aftermath of World War II.

Way Forward for Ukraine:

  • Ukraine should be able to select its economic and political alliances freely, including with Europe.
  • Ukraine should not become a member of NATO. It should be allowed to form a government that reflects the expressed wishes of its citizens.
  • It should pursue a posture comparable to that of Finland.
  • That country declares its staunch independence and works cooperatively with the West in most areas, but avoids institutional enmity toward Russia.

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery 2022: The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade is observed on March 25th every year to honor and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system.

Key Points:

  • This day aims to raise awareness about the horrors of slavery and racism that happened and continues to happen all around the world.
  • Between the 16th and the 19th century, almost 20 million people were forcibly shipped off from Africa to North and South America and Europe.

Theme:

The theme of International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery 2022 is “Stories of Courage: Resistance to Slavery and Unity against Racism”.

  • The theme aims to showcase the tales of people who were forcibly taken from their families and homelands, as well as those who battled back against tyrants and won their freedom despite all obstacles.
  • Despite the abolishment of the slavery system, the stories continue today as people continue to fight racism, which is the most persistent legacy of the transatlantic slave trade.
  • The Black Lives Matter movement is an example of large-scale anti-racism and anti-prejudice movement that originated in the United States and gradually extended around the world.
  • It is a decentralized political and social movement that aims to bring attention to the racism, injustice, and inequality that black people face.

Objective:

  • The main objective of this day is to end racial discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion of these people, as well as enable political, economic, and structural transformations to eliminate power imbalances that continue to deny equality of opportunity and justice to all.
  • The day's commemoration is a call to all people to unite against racism and work together to establish societies based on dignity, equality, and solidarity.

Significance:

  • The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade commemorates the massive crimes against humanity, unprecedented human trafficking, degrading economic transactions and atrocious human rights violations that were brought upon the enslaved Africans during the transatlantic trade.
  • The International Day of Slavery Victims' Remembrance provides an opportunity to learn about what happened and reflect on such stories.
  • It is a day to pay tribute to the millions of Africans who were forcibly removed from their homelands, and stand in solidarity against racism, which is a byproduct of the slave trade system and continues to confront people of African descent around the world.

History:

  • The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade was established by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) through a resolution on December 17, 2007, to commemorate the struggles and challenges faced by the victims of the slave trade.

UN Rememberance Programme:

In 2007, a Remember Slavery Programme was established by UNGA to honour the memory of the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

  • Under the programme, a range of educational activities are organized throughout the year. 
  • A memorial has also been created at the UN headquarters in New York to permanently honor the victims of slave trade.

What is Transatlantic Slave Trade?

  • The Transatlantic Slave Commerce was a three-way trade between America, West Africa, and Europe that featured vast human trafficking and the enslavement of men, women, and children. It has been dubbed the worst human rights violation in history.
  • Between the 16th and 19th centuries, almost 15-20 million individuals were sold as slaves.
  • Approximately 2.4 million people perished on the lengthy and difficult journeys, while millions more died after arriving in these countries due to a variety of factors including excessive mistreatment, famine and human rights violations.
  • The slaves were considered cargo rather than human beings by the ship-owners, and they were shipped in the cheapest way possible.
  • After that, the slaves were sold to labour in plantations, mines, rice fields and even as home servants.

Abolition of Slavery:

  • Britain was the first country to pass legislation banning the slave trade in 1807.
  • Britain then pressured Spain, France, Portugal and the Netherlands to also ban slavery by 1815.
  • The United States made the slave trade punishable by death in 1820.
  • The US officially abolished slavery in 1865. 

Solomon Islands & China Deal: The Solomon Islands recently confirmed that it has signed a policing deal with China.

Key Highlights:

  • The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by Anthony Veke, Minister for police in the Solomon Islands with Wang Xiaohong, executive vice minister of China's Ministry of Public Security in a virtual meeting on March 18, 2022.
  • An official of the Pacific island nation’s government said that it will send a proposal for a broader security agreement covering the military to its Cabinet for consideration.
  • If approved, it would be the first time a strategic adversary has been within striking distance of Australia since World War II.
  • A draft copy of a security MOU circulated on social media states that it would cover Chinese police, armed police and the military assisting the Solomon Islands on social order, disaster response and protecting the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects in the Solomon Islands.
  • The draft also provides for Chinese naval ships to carry out logistical replenishments in the Solomon Islands, fuelling anxiety in Canberra it would be a step toward a Chinese military base in the region.
  • The Solomon Islands switched diplomatic ties from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019, which partly fuelled discontent that led to riots in the capital, Honiara, in November.

Concern over China's move into the Pacific:

  • The arrangements are likely to concern the U.S., which said in February it would open an Embassy in the Solomon Islands.
  • The security treaty, if concluded, would be a major inroad for China in a region that U.S. allies Australia and New Zealand have for decades seen as their “back yard.
  • Australia has a bilateral security agreement with the Solomon Islands covering the deployment of police and armed forces, signed in 2018.
  • Australia has historically provided security support to the Solomon Islands and led a policing mission to restore order in the wake of riots, at the request of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

About Solomon Islands:

  • The Solomon Islands are a sovereign country.
  • It consists of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania, to the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu.
  • Its capital is Honiara which is located on the largest island, Guadalcanal.
  • The currency used here is the Solomon Islands dollar.

Serdar Berdymukhamedov: Serdar Berdimuhamedow has been sworn in as the President of Turkmenistan.

Key Highlights:

  • Berdymukhamedov, secured 72.97 percent of the votes election to lead the gas-rich country.
  • He succeeds his father and former president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
  • Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov had become president in 2006 and has served till 2022.

Note: The presidential elections in Turkmenistan are held every seven years.

About Turkmenistan:

  • Turkmenistan also known as Turkmenia, is a sovereign country in Central Asia.
  • It is bordered by the Caspian Sea and largely covered by the Karakum Desert.
  • Its Capital is Ashgabat.
  • Its official language is Turkmen.
  • The currency used here is Turkmenistan manat.

Joint Declaration on Privacy and the Protection of Personal Data: The European Union (EU) along with nine countries which also include India has called for fostering international cooperation to promote high data protection and privacy standards based on certain core elements increasingly shared across the Indo-Pacific region, Europe and beyond.

About the Declaration:

  • In a ‘Joint Declaration on Privacy and the Protection of Personal Data: Strengthening trust in the digital environment’ the countries have called for rapid technological developments, in the area of digital and information technologies as new challenges are coming up for the protection and privacy of personal data.
  • To foster free data flow, as also acknowledged by the G20 Rome Leaders’ Declaration, is the key to harnessing the opportunities which are presented by the digital economy.
  • It must also be ensured by the countries’ respective legal frameworks, that an individual’s right to privacy as well as the protection of personal data is treated as a fundamental freedom and adhered to.

Which are the countries that have called for data protection?

  • The countries along with the European Union are India, Australia, Comoros, Japan, Mauritius, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Sri Lanka have called for data protection.

 Why did this declaration come to the forefront?

  • The joint declaration has been issued because there is a lack of trust in how data is handled and this has had a negative impact on the economies and societies of the respective countries.
  • As a result of this, reluctance on the part of communities and individuals to adopt new technology, sharing personal data with business exchanges and overseas partners has become a major challenge.
  • So to face this challenge this declaration has been issued so that high data protection and privacy standards can be promoted and will help in the development of the said nations.

 

Current International Events - March 2022

International Day to Combat Islamophobia: The 193-member United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted a resolution to proclaim March 15th as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia every year starting from 2022.

About the Resolution:

  • The resolution, adopted by UNGA regarding the International Day to Combat Islamophobia was introduced by Pakistan’s ambassador Munir Akram on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), on March 15, 2022, under the agenda item Culture of peace.
  • The resolution emphasizes the right to freedom of religion and belief and recalls a 1981 resolution calling for “the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief.”
  • This resolution was co-sponsored by 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and eight other countries including China and Russia.
  • It marks the day when a gunman entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 worshippers and wounding 40 others in the terror attack.

The objective of the day:

The main objective of International Day to Combat Islamophobia will be as follows:

  • To curtail systematic hate speech and discrimination against Muslims
  • To respect for religious symbols and practices
  • To eliminate all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.

India’s response at UNGA:

  • However, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti has expressed concern over phobia against "one religion being elevated to the level of an international day".
  • He said that India hopes the resolution adopted "does not set a precedent" which will lead to multiple resolutions on phobias based on selective religions and divide the United Nations into religious camps.
  • He stated that there are growing contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias.
  • Hinduism has more than 1.2 billion followers, Buddhism more than 535 million and Sikhism more than 30 million spread out around the world.
  • Following the adoption of the draft resolution, Mr Tirumurti said that while India condemns all acts motivated by antisemitism, Christianophobia or Islamophobia, such phobias are not restricted to Abrahamic religions only.
  • So it is time that the prevalence of religiophobia, rather than single out just one is acknowledged by everyone.
  • India wants the UN to stay out of religious problems so that it may continue to be a platform for peace and unity rather than becoming divided into religious factions.
  • The Indian Ambassador also reminded us that there is already an "International Day remembering the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief" and an "International Day of Tolerance."

Chinese Yuan as Reference Currency: India and sanctions-hit Russia are said to be considering the use of the Chinese Yuan as the reference currency to facilitate oil trade between the two countries.

Key Details:

  • India is the world’s third-largest oil importer so it is considering buying oil from Russia at a discounted rate to cool inflationary pressures.
  • According to some sources, the plan would enable direct convertibility between the rupee and Yuan and will help cut transaction and hedging costs.
  • The proposal would allow Indian exports of oilseeds, sugar to China and pharmaceuticals to be settled in rupee, while keeping out trade in high volume products such as electronics.
  • As India and China's currencies are not directly convertible, most trade between them is handled in US dollars.
  • So, by allowing Indian importers to pay for Chinese goods in yuan would allow the South Asian nation to conserve dollars to cover rising oil import expenses in the face of rising crude prices and the rupee’s slump to a record low.

Why is Russia trying to sell oil to India?

  • Russia is trying to sell oil to India because of economic sanctions imposed by the West against Russia after the Russian military invaded Ukraine late last month.
  • Since the United States and Europe implemented sanctions last month, Russia has been attempting to sell oil to India at a big discount.
  • Certain Russian banks were withdrawn from the SWIFT payments system as part of Western sanctions, limiting Russia's capacity to deal with the rest of the world.

Reasons for using the Chinese Yuan instead of the U.S. dollar for oil trade:

  • The reasons for using the Chinese Yuan instead of the U.S. dollar for oil trade are as follows:
  • For decades, major oil producers have sold their output to international purchasers in exchange for US dollars.
  • Oil sellers have been willing to accept U.S. dollars for their oil because the currency is widely accepted in the global market for goods and services.
  • Since global trade in dollars is cleared by US banks, the US government has the authority to freeze currencies belonging to its opponents which then debilitates economies.
  • To avoid this risk, many countries have been exploring alternatives to the US dollar as a means of conducting international trade.
  • China has recently emerged as a big economic power, which has boosted the yuan's perceived worth and made it a more acceptable currency for international trade.
  • However, it should be noted that the Chinese Yuan facilitates just around 3% of world trade, with about 90% of global trade still taking place in US dollars.

India Japan Summit 2022: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida along with a group of senior officials recently participated in the 14th India-Japan Annual Summit 2022.

Key Points:

  • The summit was held on March 19, 2022 in New Delhi.
  • At the meet, India and Japan set an investment target of “five trillion yen” ($42 billion) in the next five years.
  • Three Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) were also exchanged between the two leaders in the areas of cybersecurity, capacity building, and information sharing and cooperation.
  • Agreements in the areas of economic partnerships, waste-water management, urban development, a clean energy partnership and an agreement to promote bamboo-based products from the northeast region were also exchanged.
  • PM Modi also announced that both countries were working as 'One team- One project' on Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor.
  • The two presidents stressed the importance of nuclear facility safety and security in Ukraine, as well as their appeal for an immediate, cease of violence and highlighted that there was no other way to resolve the Ukraine situation except via discussion.

The “2+2” meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers in the next few months is due to take forward agreements on the strategic partnership and PM Modi is expected to visit Tokyo in May or June, where he will also attend the Quad summit with the U.S. President and Australian Prime Minister.

India and Japan:

  • This is the first major Head/of government/Head of State incoming visit to India in 2022.
  • This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
  • Japan in recent years has supported India's urban infrastructure development and the high-speed railway based on its bullet train technology.
  • Japan, which has been India's closest ally in Asia and the world, has been involved in a number of important infrastructure projects in the Northeast, including a 20-kilometer bridge across the Brahmaputra River between Assam and Meghalaya, as well as the Rudraksha Convention Centre in Varanasi.
  • It has also played a major role in India’s first bullet train or Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail.
  • In the defence area, both countries have inked a Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services Agreement (RPSS).
  • The two countries have a Specified Skilled Workers Agreement, and under Technical Intern Training Programme (TITP), around 220 Indian youth have been sent to work in that country.
  • In 2022, Japan has started an examination for nursing care under this programme.
  • India and Japan are also partners in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a security framework known as the Quad that includes the US and Australia.
  • The QUAD nations (India, Japan, the United States, and Australia) have been cooperating to counter the increasing risks posed by Chinese aggressiveness in the Indo-Pacific, as well as combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Museum of the Future: The Museum of the Future was recently inaugurated in Dubai.

Key Points:

  • The  Museum of the Future, now open to the public is an exhibition space for innovative and futuristic ideologies, services, and products.
  • The goal of this museum is to promote technological development and innovation, especially in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).
  • The museum reportedly takes the visitors on an experiential journey, transporting them to the year 2071, to coincide with the centenary of the founding of the UAE.

About the Museum:

  • Located in the Financial District of Dubai, UAE, the building is an eye-grabber for its unique shape, and for the void that is included within it.
  • The Museum of the Future has three main elements: green hill, building, and void.
  • The museum is elliptical, with an elliptical void inside it.
  • Despite having no columns, the building has seven floors and is 77 metres high.
  • Architect Shaun Killa designed the museum and was its architect.
  • The museum was founded by the Dubai Future Foundation.
  • It was opened on 22nd February of 2022.
  • The choice of the date was officially made because the 22nd of February 2022 is the Palindrome date.

What is Palindrome?

A palindrome is a word, number, phrase, or other sequences of characters which reads the same backward as forward, such as madam or racecar.

Tuesday, 22 February 2022 is considered a palindrome day (22022022 using dd-mm-yyyy format) as it can be read from left to right or vice versa.

About Dubai:

  • Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • Dubai is also the capital of the UAE.
  • Founded on 9 June 1833, it is known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene.
  • It is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations.
  • It has the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower that dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline.
  • It is located in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula on the coast of the Persian Gulf.

Ukraine in European Electricity Grid: Ukraine has recently been linked to an electricity grid of continental Europe.

This will reduce Ukraine’s dependence on Russia.

Synchronization of the electricity grid:

  • According to an announcement by the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E), on a trial basis, Ukraine's and Moldova's electrical grids were successfully synced with the Continental European Power System.
  • Preparation for grid synchronization was going on since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea.
  • However, due to the Russian invasion in 2022, Ukraine made an emergency request to expedite the procedure, and trials began immediately.
  • Now, during an emergency, energy suppliers on the European continental system, which extends from Portugal to Poland, can send electricity to Ukraine.
  • This will help in maintaining the stability of the power systems of Ukraine and Moldova.
  • In addition, Ukraine can shut down some of its coal-fired power facilities to maintain the system stability and save valuable fuel during a war.
  • In the long run, this grid synchronization will allow Ukraine to export its surplus electricity generated by nuclear power plants to other European countries.

About ENTSO-E:

  • The European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E) is the European association for the cooperation of transmission system operators (TSOs) for electricity.
  • It operates the world’s largest interconnected electrical grid.
  • ENTSO-E represents 39 electricity transmission system operators from 35 countries across Europe, thus extending beyond EU borders.
  • Thus its members include both European Union (EU) and non-EU member states.
  • On 27 June 2008, 36 European electricity transmission system operators (TSOs) signed in Prague a declaration of intent to create the ENTSO-E.
  • ENTSO-E was established and given legal mandates by the EU's Third Package for the Internal energy market in 2009, which aims at further liberalizing the gas and electricity markets in the EU
  • It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.

Dependence on Russia:

  • Previously, Ukraine and Moldova were members of the Integrated Power System, which also included Russia and Belarus.
  • As a result, they became reliant on Russia's grid operator.

International Day of Happiness 2022: International Day of happiness is observed on March 20 every year around the world.

Key Facts:

  • This day is an UN-sponsored annual event that promotes happiness as a universal human right.
  • It also emphasizes how important happiness is to humanity.

Theme:

The theme for Happiness Day 2022 is Keep Calm, Stay Wise and Be Kind.

  • Keeping cool and calm in every possible situation is the key to happiness and fulfillment.
  • In difficult situations, staying intelligent leads to wiser decisions and success.
  • Kindness to others in their times of need, faults, and errors will help them grow and feel better.

History:

  • The United Nations started celebrating this day in 2013, but the resolution for the same was passed on July 12, 2012.
  • The resolution was initiated by Bhutan which shed the light on the importance of National Happiness.

Significance:

  • Initially, in the 1970s, Bhutan placed a higher priority on National Happiness than on National Income.
  • Bhutan is noted for prioritizing Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product at the United Nations General Assembly's 66th session.
  • The country also hosted a High-level meeting on Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” during the session when the UN launched 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, which included goals like putting an end to poverty, reducing inequality and protecting our planet.

 

International Women’s Day 2022: International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on March 8th across the globe.

Key Points:

  • IWD is celebrated to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women.
  • The day also intends to create awareness among women to take a stand for themselves and fight against gender discrimination in society.
  • The day emphasizes on women's rights movement and brings attention to several issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

Theme of IWD 2022:

  • The theme for IWD 2022 is ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’.
  • The IWD 2022 theme attempts to recognize the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, to build a more sustainable future for all.
  • Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach.

IWD 2022 campaign theme:

  • IWD 2022 campaign theme is ‘#BreakTheBias’.
  • It intends to promote a “gender equal world”, which is “free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination”.
  • “A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive”, and where “difference is valued and celebrated”.

History:

  • International Women’s Day was observed for the first time in 1911.
  • In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly UNGA) invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.
  • Its roots, however, are found in the labour movement, wherein it was first organised in 1911 by the early 20th century Marxist from Germany Clara Zetkin.

What colors symbolize International Women's Day?

Purple, green and white are the colors of International Women's Day.

  • Purple signifies justice and dignity.
  • Green symbolizes hope.
  • White represents purity, albeit a controversial concept.

The colors originated from the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908.

Women’s Day in India:

  1. The National Women’s Day in India is celebrated on  February 13  to commemorate Sarojini Naidu’s birth anniversary.
  2. Sarojini Naidu was called the Nightingale of India and was a poet as well as political leader.
  3. She was a pioneer in women’s rights advocacy.

BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA): In the absence of Bhutan's approval of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA), India, Bangladesh, and Nepal have finalised an enabling MoU to be signed by them for the implementation of the MVA.

Key points about the meeting:

  • The MoU was finalized at a meeting of the three nations on the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) MVA here on March 7-8, 2022. Bhutan participated in the meeting as an observer.
  • The meeting was held to discuss the next steps in operationalzing the agreement for the free flow of goods and people between them.
  • The delegates agreed on specific actions and dates for finalizing the Passenger and Cargo Protocols in time for the implementation of the BBIN MVA.
  • Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided the technical and knowledge support to the meeting.

This is the first meeting of the group since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.The last meeting was held in February 2020 in New Delhi.

About BBIN MVA:

  • The original BBIN MVA was signed by all four countries at the BBIN transport ministers meeting in Thimpu, Bhutan in June 2015.
  • But after objections in Bhutan over sustainability and environmental concerns, the Bhutanese Parliament decided not to endorse the plan.
  • The then administration of Tobgay Tshering agreed to enable the other three countries to proceed with the vehicular movement initiative (BIN-MVA) in 2017.
  • BBIN MVA would permit the four countries to ply their vehicles in each other’s country for transportation of cargo and passengers.
  • As per the agreement, to enter another country’s territory, each vehicle would require an online electronic permit, and border security arrangements between nations’ borders will also remain.
  • Under the agreement, there is no need for trans-shipment of goods from one country’s cargo vehicles to another’s at the border.
  • Cargo vehicles, under the system, will have an electronic seal so that they can be tracked.
  • Every time the container's door opens, regulators will be notified.
  • There is no need for customs clearance at the border because the cargo vehicles are equipped with an electronic seal and a GPS tracking device.

Ratification of BBIN MVA:

  • The agreement would enter into force once it was ratified by all four member nations. 
  • India, Bangladesh and Nepal ratified the agreement but Bhutan has yet to ratify due the rejection by the upper house of Bhutan in November 2016.
  • Bhutan has requested for a cap to be fixed on the number of vehicles entering its territory.
  • Bhutan wants to limit the number of vehicles entering the nation due to environmental concerns and the impact on Bhutanese truckers.

Note: India and Bhutan already have a bilateral agreement in place that provides for frictionless automobile mobility between the two countries. Bhutan's refusal to ratify the BBIN agreement will solely have an impact on its commerce with Bangladesh and Nepal.

Next Step:

  • Although India remains "hopeful" that Bhutan will alter its mind about the project, a meeting in November 2021 decided to proceed for the time being, despite the fact that there have been no new signals from Thimphu on the project.
  • Progress on the seven-year-old project has been slow, despite several trial runs being held along the Bangladesh-India-Nepal road route for passenger buses and cargo trucks.
  • There are still some agreements holding up the final protocols.
  • Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Colombo at the end of March to attend the summit of another sub-regional grouping, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), which will also include Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan as well.

About BBIN:

  • The BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) Initiative is a sub-regional architecture of countries in Eastern South Asia, a sub-region of South Asia.
  • The group meets through official representatives of member states to develop, implement, and review quadrilateral agreements in areas such power, water resource management, transportation and infrastructure.

Yoon Suk-yeol: Yoon Suk-yeol, a conservative former prosecutor, has been declared as the winner of the 2022 South Korean presidential election to be elected as the new President of the country.

Key Highlights:

  • People Power Party candidate Yoon Suk Yeol defeated Democratic Party's nominee Lee Jae-myung in the 2022 South Korean presidential election.
  • He won 48.59% of the votes, narrowly edging Lee Jae-myung who garnered 47.80%.
  • He is scheduled to assume office as president on May 10, 2022, for a fixed term of five years.
  • He will succeed incumbent President Moon Jae-in.

About Yoon Suk-yeol:

  • Yoon Suk-yeol is a South Korean politician, former public prosecutor and lawyer who is the president-elect of South Korea.
  • He served as Prosecutor General of South Korea between 2019 and 2021 under President Moon Jae-in.
  • He also played a major role in the conviction of former President Park Geun-hye.

About South Korea:

  • South Korea officially the Republic of Korea is an East Asian nation on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula.
  • Constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and it shares one of the world’s most heavily militarized borders with North Korea.
  • Its Capital is Seoul.
  • The currency used here is South Korean won.
  • The current President and the Prime minister of South Korea are Yoon Suk-yeol and Kim Boo-kyum respectively.

Katalin Novak: Katalin Novak, a close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban was recently elected by the Hungarian parliament as the EU member's first ever woman president.

Key Highlights:

  • Novak, who most recently served as a minister for family policy, portrayed her election as a victory for women.
  • She was elected to the mostly ceremonial role by 137 votes to 51 in the parliament dominated by Orban’s right-wing Fidesz party ahead of opposition challenger Peter Rona, an economist.
  • Novak will succeed Janos Ader, a co-founder of Orban’s governing right-wing Fidesz party who has held the job since 2012.
  • She will take office after Ader’s term expires May 10.
  • Novak started her political career in 2001 at the foreign ministry, specializing in European matters.
  • Novak, in December 2021 stepped down as minister upon her nomination.

About Hungary:

  • Hungary is a landlocked country, situated in the Carpathian Basin.
  • It is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Romania to the east and southeast, Serbia to the south, Croatia and Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west.
  • Its two longest rivers called Danube and Tisza divide Hungary into three parts:
  1. Transdanubia (to the west of the Danube)
  2. The plain between the Rivers Danube and Tisza
  3. The Trans-Tisza region (to the east of the Tisza)
  • The capital of Hungary is Budapest.
  • The currency used here is Forint (HUF).

5th India-Canada MDTI: India and Canada have decided to consider signing an Interim Agreement or Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) to boost trade in goods and services.

Key Highlights:

  • A Joint Statement was issued at the conclusion of the fifth Ministerial Dialogue on Trade & Investment (MDTI) held by both countries in New Delhi on 11 March 2022.
  • India’s Commerce minister Piyush Goyal and Mary Ng, Canada's Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade attended the meet.

Key Points about the Meet:

  • The Interim Agreement would include high level commitments in goods, services, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, and dispute resolution, as well as any additional areas mutually agreed upon.
  • Canada also agreed to examine expeditiously the request for Conformity Verification Body (CVB) status to APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) in order to facilitate the export of Indian organic products.
  • They also emphasized enhancing cooperation in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and critical and rare earth minerals as well as in areas like tourism, urban infrastructure, renewable energy and mining.
  • A range of other bilateral trade and investment issues were also discussed during the meeting.
  • India-Canada Bilateral Center will be set up for dedicated science and technology activities between the two countries.

Note: India has already established such bilateral centres in countries like US, Germany and France.

India –Canada Trade:

  • India’s exports to Canada include textiles, diamonds & jewellery, Iron and steel, Organic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, etc.
  • India’s imports from Canada include petroleum products, coal, fertiliser, iron and steel, heavy machinery, vegetables, etc.
  • Canada is India’s 31st largest market and India had $200 million trade surplus with Canada in financial year 2020-21.

International Day of Women Judges: The first-ever International Day of Women Judges was observed on 10th March 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • The International Day of Women Judges is celebrated to promote the presence of women in the judicial field and strengthen the legal system.
  • The United Nations (UN) reaffirms its commitment to create and implement appropriate and effective strategies and plans for the promotion of women in the legal system and institutions at the managerial and leadership levels on this day.

Significance:

  • UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 is Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls.
  • Their goal is to achieve progress across all Development goals and to add a gender perspective to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Aim:

  • This day not only aims to recognize the efforts and contributions being made by women judges but also empowers young women and girls who aspire to become judges and leaders in the community.
  • It aims to bring to light the active participation of women at all levels of decision-making and how their inclusion can help in achieving gender equality in democratic societies.

Importance of Women in the Judiciary:

  • Women in the judiciary play a vital role in ensuring that courts reflect their constituents, address problems, and render fair decisions.
  • The representation of women in the judiciary system strengthens the legitimacy of the system and conveys a powerful message that courts are open and accessible to individuals seeking justice.
  • Women have historically been excluded from the profession, thus their appointment as judges is a great step forward for the judiciary.
  • It also inspires the next generation of women judges and advocates to achieve their goals.

History of this day:

  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution A/RES/75/274 on 28 April 2021 and proclaimed the 10th March of every year as the International Day of Women Judges.
  • The resolution was drafted by the State of Qatar, which is proof to bring a positive shift in society.

International Day of Women Judges in India:

  • The Supreme Court of India (SCI) celebrated the first-ever International Day of Women Judges, to promote full and equal participation of women at all levels of the judiciary.
  • All the women Hon’ble Judges of the Constitutional Courts and all the women Judicial Officers from across the country were invited to join the programme, online.
  • Shri Justice N. V. Ramana, Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India, Ms. Justice Indira Banerjee, Ms. Justice Hima Kohli, Mrs. Justice B. V. Nagarathna and Ms. Justice Bela M. Trivedi, Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court took part in the event from the Supreme Court of India.

The first female justice of Indian High Court:

  1. Fathima Beevi was the first female justice to be a part of the Supreme Court of India and the first Muslim woman to be appointed to any of the higher judiciaries in country.
  2. She was appointed on 6 October 1989.
  3. There have been 11 female justices in the court since then. Currently, there is 4 sitting female judge out of the total 33 judges (including Chief Justice of India) in the court.

Kyiv-Moscow dialogue on Nuclear Safety: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi has stated that IAEA has succeeded in establishing a direct dialogue on nuclear security between Russia and Ukraine at a high level.

Key Details:

  • IAEA, on 10 March 2022 held meetings with the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine, as well as delegations from both countries in Antalya, Turkey.
  • At the meeting, both countries agreed to establish high-level direct dialogue and continue to engage with IAEA.
  • According IAEA, 8 of Ukraine's 15 reactors are still operating despite the ongoing hostilities and some of them are falling under the control of the Russian forces.
  • Ukraine, on 9th March 2022 informed IAEA that the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant had been disconnected from the electricity grid.
  • However, disconnection from the electricity grid would not have a critical impact on safety at the site as the cooling of spent nuclear fuel is still maintained using reserve diesel generators.

Following the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, IAEA encouraged both countries to exercise prudence and safeguard the safety of nuclear facilities.

About IAEA:

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international autonomous organization.
  • The IAEA was established as an autonomous organisation on 29 July 1957.
  • The IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the Security Council, while still being created independently of the United Nations by its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute.
  • It seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
  • It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
  • The current Director General of IAEA is Rafael Mariano Grossi. 

India-ITU Host Country Agreement (HCA): Union Minister of Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw and Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), on 3rd March 2022, signed the Host Country Agreement (HCA) for the establishment of an Area Office & Innovation Centre of ITU in New Delhi.

Key Highlights:

  • The HCA was signed in a virtual ceremony during the World Telecommunications Standardization Assembly-20 (WTSA-20) being held in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • HCA provides the legal and financial framework for the establishment and operations of the Area Office and innovation center of ITU in New Delhi, India.

Area Office and the Innovation Centre:

  • The Area Office and Innovation Centre of ITU at New Delhi is expected to serve South Asian countries namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India.
  • It will give impetus to research and development in telecommunication technologies in the South Asian region.
  • It will also provide opportunities to academics, start-ups, and Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to showcase their innovation on a global stage.
  • The Area Office and the Innovation Centre are expected to be operational by mid-2022.

About International Telecommunication Union (ITU):

  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for information and communication technologies (ICTs).
  • It was established in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, making it the oldest UN agency.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • ITU currently has a membership of 193 countries and over 900 private-sector entities and academic institutions.

World Telecommunications Standardization Assembly (WTSA):

  • WTSA is a four-yearly global conference of ITU dedicated to standardisation of the Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs).
  • It defines the general policy and adopts working methods and procedures for ITU-T.
  • The functions of the WTSA are provided in Article 18 of the ITU Constitution and Article 13 of the ITU Convention.
  • India has proposed to host the next WTSA to be held in 2024.

Quad Leaders Summit 2022: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi participated at a virtual summit of Quad leaders on 5 March 2022.

Highlights:

  • The summit witnessed the participation of US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also.
  • The QUAD leaders’ virtual summit was held in the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • However, the agenda did not include the Ukraine crisis.

Note: India had chosen to abstain three times in a vote against Russia at the United Nations, while the other three QUAD members had voted in favour of Ukraine. Though, India has repeatedly urged Russia to cease its military operations in Ukraine.  

Key Highlights of the summit:

  • The progress on Quad initiatives since the September 2021 Quad Summit was reviewed by the leaders. 
  • The leaders agreed on accelerating cooperation to achieve concrete outcomes by the summit in Japan later this year.
  • They discussed the developments in Ukraine, including its humanitarian implications.
  • The leaders also discussed other topical issues, including the situation in Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean region and the Pacific Islands.
  • Japan is scheduled to host the next in-person summit of the Quad later this year.
  • The leaders agreed to stay in touch and to work towards an ambitious agenda for the forthcoming Leaders’ Summit in Japan.

Note: This virtual meeting of Quad assumes significance amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and western sanctions on Russia. 

Statements of PM Modi:

  • Prime Minister Modi underlined that the Quad must remain focused on its fundamental goal of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • He called for concrete and practical forms of cooperation within the Quad, in areas like humanitarian and disaster relief, debt sustainability, supply chains, clean energy, connectivity, and capacity-building.
  • He also emphasized the need to return to a path of dialogue and diplomacy.
  • He reiterated the importance of adhering to the UN Charter, international law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Background:

  •  Quad’s first in-person summit was held in Washington in September 2021.

About QUAD:

  • The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), or QUAD, is a strategic security dialogue between the United States of America (USA), India, Australia and Japan that is maintained by talks between member countries.
  • A shared vision of Quad members is “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” and a “rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas.”
  • The coalition also aims to offer, alternative debt financing for nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The dialogue was initiated in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the support of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
  • During the 2017 ASEAN Summits in Manila, all four former members led by Japan's Prime Minister Abe, Australian Prime Minister  Malcolm Turnbull, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and US President Donald Trump agreed to revive the quadrilateral alliance in order to counter China militarily and diplomatically in the "Indo-Pacific" region, particularly in the South China Sea.

Swiss Foreign Policy: As western leaders came together to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Switzerland broke its 200-year long neutrality policy to adopt all sanctions imposed on  Moscow and its leaders.

  • It also announced it would join the European Union (EU) in closing the Swiss airspace to Russian airplanes, curtailing entry to the Swiss with Russian connections and imposing financial sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders.

About Swiss Neutrality:

  • Swiss neutrality is one of the main principles of Switzerland, the tiny Alpine nation’s foreign policy which dictates that Switzerland is not to be involved in armed or political conflicts between other states.
  • This policy is self-imposed and designed to ensure external security and promote peace.
  • It has the oldest policy of military neutrality in the world
  • It has had a neutrality policy was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1815.
  • Its official website attests to this, noting that “permanent neutrality is a principle of Swiss foreign policy.”
  • It pursues an active foreign policy and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world.
  • Though it serves as the headquarters of several diplomatic missions and as the venue for historic treaties like the Geneva Convention, Switzerland is not a part of the European Union or NATO.
  • It joined the United Nations only recently in 2002.
  • During the Second World War, Switzerland, which shares borders with Germany, France and Italy, used a combination of military deterrence, strategic planning and economic neutrality to hold its own in 1940s Europe.

About Switzerland:

  • Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a country situated in the confluence of Western, Central, and Southern Europe.
  • It is a landlocked country bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east.
  • It is geographically divided among the Swiss Plateau, the Alps, and the Jura.
  • Its official language is German, Romansh, French, Italian.
  • The Capital of Switzerland is Bern City.
  • The currency used here is the Swiss franc.
  • Simonetta Sommaruga is the current President of the Swiss Confederation.

World Civil Defence Day 2022: World Civil Defence Day is observed across the globe on 1st March annually.

Key Points:

  • The day is observed to honour the significance of Civil Defence and the personnel who have sacrificed their lives for it.
  • The main aim of World Civil Defence Day is to promote public awareness about civil defence, civil protection and emergency management in order to better prepare the civilian population to protect itself in the event of an emergency and to reduce the risk of disaster.

Theme of Civil Defence Day 2022:

  • The theme of World Civil Defence Day 2022 is “Civil defence and management of displaced populations in face of disasters and crises; the role of volunteers and the fight against pandemics”.

Significance:

  • The vital significance of civil protection and defence is that it is aimed at raising awareness of the preparedness for, and prevention and self-protection measures in the event of accidents or disasters.
  • Be it the present Russia-Ukraine crisis or disasters such as tsunamis or earthquakes or pandemics.

History of the day:

  • The day was integrated by the International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO) in 1990.
  • Civil Defence Day was officially inaugurated by the International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO) in 2012.
  • March 1st was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the day on which the constitution of the ICDO came into force.

About ICDO:

  • The International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO) is an intergovernmental organization that contributes to the development and safety of citizens while safeguarding infrastructure and the surroundings.
  • It consists of 59 countries that conduct training programs to improve civil defense human resource management in those countries.
  • The Constitution of the ICDO was adopted on 17 October 1966.
  • It came into force on 1st March 1972.
  • It attributes the status of the intergovernmental organizations to the ICDO (United Nations, Treaty Series, volume 985, registration No. 14376).

History:

  • It has its origins in the Association of Geneva Zones, which Surgeon-General George Saint-Paul founded in 1931.
  • Saint-Paul was influenced by the horrors of the First World War and aimed to create safety zones where civilians could seek protection in times of wars or disasters.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power: A day after Russian forces allegedly attacked and captured Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine, a report claimed that the nuclear facility was back under Ukrainian control.

Russia had recently captured Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Key Points:

  • The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station is located in the city of Energodar.
  • It is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world.
  • It accounts for about one-quarter of Ukraine’s power generation.
  • This comes after the Russian military forces began shelling at the nuclear power plant site, setting one of the buildings within the complex on fire, raising fears of a nuclear catastrophe.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that there are six power units at the nuclear power plant, one power unit exploded in Chernobyl!
  • Enerhodar city’s mayor Dmytro Orlov also confirmed that the plant was on fire.
  • However, Ukraine's State Emergency Service has reported that the fire had been put out at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station.

Key Highlights of Russia-Ukraine War:

  • Since the attack launched by the Russian President Vladimir Putin on the state on February 24, 2022, over 1.5 million people by the end of the weekend have fled Ukraine.
  • The fighting has been on for over eleven days with Ukraine standing defiant and strong against the invading Russian forces.
  • There have been huge casualties on both sides.
  • Only one Ukrainian city, the southern port of Kherson, has fallen to Russian forces so far as Ukrainians refuse to give up.
  • Russian forces launched hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks across the country, including powerful bombs dropped on residential areas of Chernihiv, a city north of the capital of Kyiv.
  • Russia in their first move had captured the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is located north of Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
  • The world’s largest cargo aircraft, the Antonov An-225, also was “destroyed” by Russia in an attack on its base at Hostomel/Gostomel airport in Ukraine.

Note: Known formally as the “Cossack”, its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) operating code, the world knew the “super-heavy transport plane” better by its Ukrainian name, “Mriya”, or “the Dream”.

  • With Ukrainian civilians stranded in the cities under attack with no food and medical supplies, Russia and Ukrainian negotiators agreed to open up humanitarian corridors in their second round of talks to enable smooth evacuation of civilians and supply of essentials.
  • The negotiators are expected to meet again next week.
  • Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has in the meanwhile requested NATO’s support in establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine and has also asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for face-to-face talks.
  • NATO countries have ruled out policing a no-fly zone, which would bar all unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine.

About Mriya:

  • Known formally as the “Cossack”, its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) operating code, the world knew the “super-heavy transport plane” better by its Ukrainian name, “Mriya”, or “the Dream”.
  • It was a six-engine 84-meter-long behemoth, with its 32-wheel landing gear.
  • It had its first flight on December 21, 1988, built mainly for the transportation of the Buran shuttle orbiter and components of the Energiya carrier rocket.
  • It made its maiden landing in India, in May 2016, at Hyderabad’s Shamshabad airport en route to Perth to deliver a 117-tonne power generator (from Prague, the Czech Republic) to a mine in Australia.
  • It played an important role too in the COVID-19 fight.
  • It ferried nearly 100 tonnes of medicines, laboratory kits, medical masks and personal protective equipment in various missions across Europe, Canada, and Africa.

Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances: President of Ukraine recently argued that Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances provides no true guarantee of safety due to Russia’s coercive power.

The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine is being considered a violation of the Budapest Memorandum.

About the Memorandum:

  • Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances refers to three identical political agreements signed at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference in Budapest, Hungary in 1994.
  • The signatories of the memorandum agreed to provide security assurances to Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine in return for their accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
  • It came after the Lisbon Protocol of 1992, which made Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan parties to the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I).
  • It was a treaty signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1991 to reduce the number of nuclear weapons.
  • As a result of the agreements and the memorandum, between 1993 and 1996, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan gave up their nuclear weapons and became non-nuclear states.
  • Ukraine at that time had the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal.

Signatories:

The memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear powers:

  1. The Russian Federation
  2. The United Kingdom
  3. The United States

China and France gave somewhat weaker individual assurances in separate documents.

Provisions

According to the memorandum Russia, the US and the UK confirmed their recognition of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine becoming parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and effectively abandoning their nuclear arsenal to Russia.

They agreed to the following:

  • Respect Belarusian, Kazakh and Ukrainian independence and sovereignty in the existing borders.
  • Refrain from the threat of the use of force against Belarus, Kazakhstan, or Ukraine.
  • Refrain from using economic pressure on Belarus, Kazakhstan, or Ukraine to influence their politics.
  • Seek immediate Security Council action to provide assistance to Belarus, Kazakhstan, or Ukraine if they "should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used".
  • Refrain from the use of nuclear arms against Belarus, Kazakhstan or Ukraine.
  • Consult with one another if questions arise regarding those commitments.

Breaches:

2013 Belarus sanctions:

In 2013, Belarus complained that sanctions of the USA against it were in breach of Article 3 of the Memorandum.

Annexation of Crimea by Russia:

In 2014, Ukraine vigorously protested the annexation of Crimea by Russia as a violation of Article 1 of the Budapest Memorandum.

Kerch Strait incident:

In 2018, Ukraine again appealed to the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum to hold urgent consultations to ensure full compliance with the memorandum’s commitments and the immediate cessation of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

 

 

 

 

 

International Mother Language Day (IMLD) 2022: International Mother Language Day 2022 was celebrated on February 21, 2022, across the globe.

Key Points:

  • IMLD is celebrated every year on February 21 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism around the world.
  • Also, to make people aware of how cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue can strengthen co-operation and provide a quality education for all.
  • In India, the day is observed as Matribhasha Diwas.
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is conducted a webinar to celebrate International Mother Language Day 2022.

Theme OF IMLD 2022:

The theme of International Mother Language Day 2022 is “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities”.

It highlights the potential role of technology to advance multilingual education and support the development of quality teaching and learning for all.

History:

  • The international mother language day was an initiative of Bangladesh.
  • IMLD was approved by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO in 1999.
  • The day is celebrated every year since 2000.
  • On 16 May 2007 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon the Member States "to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world".
  • By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism and named UNESCO to serve as the lead agency for the Year.

Significance of the day:

  • The IMLD is part of a broader initiative to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by people of the world.
  • The day signifies how an intergovernmental body like UNESCO believes in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies.
  • It is also significant for raising awareness of the disappearance of languages across the world.
  • At least 43 percent of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered.
  • As per UN reports, 40 percent of the population worldwide does not have access to education in a language they understand or speak.

Matribhasha Divas:

India celebrated Matribhasha Divas as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav on 21 February 2022.

Mother Tongues in India:

  • As per the 2011 census, India has 234 identifiable mother tongues, 121 languages.
  • The eighth schedule of the Indian constitution consists of 22 languages.
  • The census data is divided into two parts -
  • Part A comprises the 22 languages specified in the constitution and
  • Part B comprises those languages that are not mentioned in the schedule.
  • A total of 123 mother tongues are grouped in the scheduled languages category and 147 mother tongues are grouped under non-scheduled languages.
  • Almost every Indian language falls into one of the four groups:

1. Afro-Asiatic,

2. Dravidian,

3. Indo-Aryan, and

4. Sino-Tibetan.

  • Some of the widely known mother tongues in India include Punjabi,  Hindi, Rajasthani, Haryanvi, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, Urgu, Telugu, Konkani, Awadhi, Assamese, Manipuri, Kannada, Odia, Gujarati and Sindhi.

Note: Because of their history and having stood the test of time, languages like Tamil, Sanskrit, Malayalam, Odia, and Telugu have honoured the status of the classical language.

  • Other scheduled mother tongues in India include Bhojpuri, Garhwali, Marathi, Chhattisgarhi, Marwari, Maithili, Dogri, Pahari, and Sambalpuri.
  • Some of the non-scheduled mother tongues categories include Gujari, Sherpa, Kinnauri, Afghani, English, Baori, Arabic, Khariya,  Tulu, Mao and Monpa.
  • The Constitution of India designates English and Hindi as the official languages of the Government of India.
  • However, as per Article 343 (1) of the Indian Constitution, it is only the Hindi written in Devanagari Script that is accepted as the official language of the Union Government.
  • The Supreme Court and High Court use English as their official language as directed by the Constitution of India.

Note: Nearly all Indian scripts come from the same script named Brahmi and most of the major Indian epics were written in Sanskrit!

Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the recognition of two separatist republics in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk as independent through a televised address on February 21, 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • The Russian leader signed a decree recognizing the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR) and the "Luhansk People's Republic" (LPR) as independent.
  • He called Ukraine a US colony with 'a puppet regime'.
  • He also stated that he had informed the French and German leaders of his decision.
  • He has also ordered the sending of the Russian Armed Forces to the two breakaway regions of Ukraine after recognizing their independence.
  • The move has escalated fears among Western nations about a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

NATO, Germany, EU condemns Russia:

The recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk as "independent" has been met with widespread condemnation from the West amid fears it could provide a pretext for a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  • The US has strongly condemned President Putin’s decision to recognize the so-called “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics” as “independent".
  • French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz too have strongly condemned President Putin’s decision.
  • Even, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that Russia's decision to recognize Ukraine regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent is a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has also joined in the international condemnation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in an address to the nation on February 22nd accused Russia of wrecking peace talks and ruled out making any territorial concessions.

Background:

  • Earlier, the rebel leaders of eastern Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk and Lugansk territories had appealed to Mr. Putin to recognize them as independent.
  • The conflict in the separatist regions began in 2014 when the two regions broke away from Ukraine's control.
  • The rebels loyal to Russia seized government buildings in Donetsk and Luhansk, beginning a long trench war with Ukrainian forces.
  • More than 14,000 people have died in fighting in the region shortly after Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

 About Ukraine:

  • Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe.
  • It is bordered by Russia to the north-east; Belarus to the north; Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west; and Romania, Moldova, and the Black Sea to the south.
  • The Capital of Ukraine is Kyiv.
  • The currency used here is Ukrainian hryvnia.
  • The current President of Ukraine is Volodymyr Zelensky.

India at UNSC:

  • The UN Security Council had also held an emergency meeting on Ukraine on February 21, 2022, upon request from the US and its allies.
  • The UNSC meeting in Ukraine was an open meeting.
  • India's Permanent Rep to United Nations, TS Tirumurti called for restraint on all sides.
  • He said that the escalation of tension along the border of Ukraine with the Russian Federation is a matter of deep concern.
  • These developments have the potential to undermine peace and security of the region and this issue could only be resolved through diplomatic dialogue.
  • He emphasized the importance of the safety and security of civilians,
  • He highlighted that more than 20,000 Indian students and nationals live and study in different parts of Ukraine, including in its border areas and stressed that the well-being of Indians is of priority to India.

Roadmap on Blue Economy: India and France have recently inked a roadmap to enhance their bilateral exchanges on the blue economy and ocean governance.

Key Highlights:

The agreement was signed during, Dr. S Jaishankar's three-day visit to France, from February 20 to 22, 2022.

He was there to attend EU Ministerial Forum for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific which was scheduled for February 22, 2022.

The agreement on ‘Roadmap on Blue Economy and Ocean Governance’ was signed between India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.

About the partnership:

  • The partnership will help to explore the potential for collaboration in marine science research for a better understanding of oceans and ensure that the ocean remains a global common, a space of freedom and trade, based on the rule of law.
  • The roadmap scope will encompass the naval industry, maritime trade, marine technology and scientific research, fisheries, integrated coastal management, marine eco-tourism, inland waterways, and cooperation between competent administrations on civil maritime issues.
  • This cooperation can extend to equipment development as well for instance on dredging equipment, fishing ships/boats, trawlers, spare parts and repair services, undersea cabling and its servicing, rope, ice-making, net gear and marine equipment.
  • India and France underscored that fisheries are a vital economic sector and play a decisive role in food security and livelihood security, particularly for coastal populations.
  • The two countries will seek private funding to establish an R&D Centre to support joint projects and will endeavour to spur and support projects on blue economy and knowledge about the ocean under the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPRA/IFCPAR).
  • Both sides will adopt the following road map to enhance their bilateral exchanges on the blue economy and ocean governance:-
  • Institutional pillar: It is to forge a common vision of ocean governance based on the rule of law.
  • Economic pillar: In order to make the blue economy a source of sustainable growth.
  • Infrastructure pillar: To ensure cooperation on sustainable and resilient coastal and waterways infrastructure.
  • Scientific and academic pillar: For better knowledge of the ocean to innovate and protect.

India and France on Blue Economy:

  • Blue Economy and coastal resilience are a common priority for India and France.
  • Both the nations intend to make the blue economy a driver of progress of their respective societies while respecting the environment and coastal and marine biodiversity so they have agreed to explore the potential for collaboration in marine science research for a better understanding of oceans, including the Indian Ocean.

Note: India and France are maritime nations with thriving maritime economies that include, marine technology and scientific research, fisheries, port and shipping. Both have vast exclusive economic zones, and their fate is inextricably linked to the sea and the ocean.

Contribution to SDGs of UN's Sustainable Development Agenda:

  • India and France want to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, which aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources.
  • To that end, they intend to act in accordance with international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, as well as the International Maritime Organization’s initial strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships.
  • They support the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).
  • India and France are also committed to promoting cooperation between the European Union and India on the blue economy and ocean governance, in the framework of the common roadmap "EU-India Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025” and the EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

What is Blue Economy?

  • The concept was introduced by Gunter Pauli in his 2010 book- “The Blue Economy: 10 years, 100 innovations, 100 million jobs”.
  • The blue economy is a term in economics relating to the exploitation, preservation and regeneration of the marine environment.
  • According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem."
  • European Commission defines it as "All economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts.
  • The Commonwealth of Nations considers it "an emerging concept which encourages better stewardship of our ocean or 'blue' resources.

Blue Economy for India:

  • India’s blue economy is a subset of the national economy comprising the entire ocean resources system and human-made economic infrastructure in marine, maritime, and onshore coastal zones within the country’s legal jurisdiction.
  • India has a unique maritime position with some 7,500 kilometres.
  • Nine of its 29 states are coastal, and its geography includes 1,382 islands.
  • There are nearly 199 ports, including 12 major ports that handle approximately 1,400 million tons of cargo each year.
  • Apart from this, India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of over 2 million square kilometres has a bounty of living and non-living resources with significant recoverable resources such as crude oil and natural gas.
  • Also, the coastal economy sustains over 4 million fisherfolk and coastal communities.

Significance of Blue Economy for India:

  • Blue economy presents India with an unprecedented opportunity to meet its national socio-economic objectives as well as strengthen connectivity with neighbours.
  • It can help in focusing on livelihood generation, building ecological resilience, improving health and living standards of coastal communities and achieving energy security.
  • It would reinforce and strengthen the efforts of the Indian government in achieving the SDGs of hunger and poverty eradication along with sustainable use of marine resources by 2030.
  • The marine services sector could serve as the backbone of its blue economy and help India become a 10 trillion dollar economy by 2022.

Developments Initiated by India:

Sagarmala Project:

  • Sagarmala Project aims at developing Inland waterways and coastal shipping which will revolutionize maritime logistics, creating millions of new jobs, reduce logistics costs, etc.
  • It focuses on the development of coastal communities and people in the sustainable use of ocean resources, modern fishing techniques and coastal tourism.

O-SMART:

  • India has an umbrella scheme by the name of O-SMART which aims at regulated use of oceans, marine resources for sustainable development.

National Fisheries policy:

  • India has a National Fisheries policy for promoting the 'Blue Growth Initiative' which focuses on sustainable utilization of fisheries wealth from the marine and other aquatic resources.

Integrated Coastal Zone Management:

  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management focuses on the conservation of coastal and marine resources and improving livelihood opportunities for coastal communities etc.

UNSC Resolution on Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia used its veto powers to block a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution condemning its invasion of Ukraine and demanding an immediate withdrawal of its troops.

Key Highlights:

  • Eleven out of the 15 permanent and non-permanent members — including the US, UK and France — voted in favour of the resolution, while India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China chose to abstain.
  • The countries that voted to adopt the motion included the US, France, UK, Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, and Norway.
  • Indian Ambassador T. S. Tirumurti, who abstained, said that “dialogue is the only path forward,” no matter how daunting it might seem, and urged the Council to restore the difficult path forward.

What is Veto Power?

  • A veto is the power to unilaterally stop an official action, especially the enactment of legislation.
  • The UNSC "veto power" is the power of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) to veto any "substantive" resolution.
  • However, a permanent member's abstention or absence does not prevent a draft resolution from being adopted.
  • This veto power does not apply to "procedural" votes, as determined by the permanent members themselves.

Note: Since 1992, Russia has been the most frequent user of the veto, followed by the United States and China.

As of February 2022, Russia has used its veto 118 times, the US 82 times, the UK 29 times, France 16 times, and China 17 times.

Additional Info:

Russia's support to India in the UN:

Over the years, Russia has used the veto power in favour of India as well.

The erstwhile Soviet Union had vetoed several resolutions on Kashmir in UNSC during the Cold War period and blocked internationalization of what is essentially a bilateral issue.

  1. In the UN Security Council Resolutions in 1957, 1962 and 1971, Russia was the only country that vetoed resolutions seeking UN interventions in Kashmir.
  2. In December 1961 Russia stood by India as it liberated Goa and whacked Portugal, a NATO member, which left many in the West with red faces. The Portuguese were the first European colonizers to come to India and the last to leave.
  3. In August 2019, Russia became the first P-5 country to describe India's move on Kashmir (scrapping Article 370 & bifurcation of the State) as purely an internal matter and called for resolution under the Shimla Agreement of 1972 and Lahore Declaration of 1999.  Ever since this position has been reiterated by the Russian Foreign Minister and senior officials.

Serpent Island: Russia has taken control of the strategic ‘Serpent Island’ in the Black Sea, located just 44 km away from Romania’s coastal city of Sulina.

Overview:

  • Thirteen Ukrainian border guards who were stationed on this island were killed during the battle after they refused to surrender.
  • Capturing this island would enable Russia to place long-range missiles and other military installations in the Danube River delta area closer to the 30-member NATO defense alliance.

About Serpent Island:

  • Snake Island, also known as Serpent Island or Zmiinyi Island, is an island belonging to Ukraine.
  • It is located approximately 35 km off Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, near the Danube Delta with an important role in delimiting Ukrainian territorial waters.
  • It played an important role during the International Court of Justice’s hearings regarding the territorial dispute between Ukraine and Romania.
  • This Island, from 2004 until 2009, was at the center of a boundary dispute between Romania and Ukraine.
  • The International Court of Justice, in 2009, delineated the territorial limits of the continental shelf around Snake Island and gave Romania over 80% of the disputed island.
  • Around 100 inhabitants lived on this island, most of them being technical personnel and frontier guards along with their families.
  • The island has been demilitarized and was under development.
  • A treaty was signed between Ukraine and Romania in 1997.
  • In accordance with the treaty, the Ukrainian government withdrew a radio division of the army, destroyed military radar, and transferred all remaining infrastructure to the civilians.

History:

  • The island was named by the Greeks Leuke and was similarly known by Romans as Alba, probably because of the white marble formations that can be found on the isle.
  • According to Dionysius Periegetes, it was called Leuke, because the serpents there were white.
  • According to Arrian, it was called Leuke due to its color.
  • He and Stephanus of Byzantium mentioned that the island was also referred to as the Island of Achilles.

Russo-Turkish War:

  • During the Ottoman Empire, this island was renamed as Fidonisi by the Greeks and from it, the naval battle of Fidonisi was named.
  • The island became part of the Russian Empire in 1829, following the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829, and remained so until 1856.
  • After the 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish War, the Ottoman Empire transferred this island along with the Northern Dobruja region to Romania as compensation for Russia’s takeover of Romania’s Southern Bessarabia province.

World War I and II:

During the First World War, a radio station was operated on this island by the Russians as part of the Romanian-Russian alliance, which was destroyed in 1917 when it was bombarded by the Turkish ship Medilli.

During the Second World War, the island was under Romanian control and an Axis radio station was located on it, making it a target for the Soviet Black Sea Fleet.

  • In 1944, the Romanian marines stationed on this island were evacuated and the Soviet troops occupied it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current International Events - February 2022

Pacific Islands Nations: Five Micronesian nations recently suspended breakaway plans from a crucial Pacific Islands political bloc as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in the region.

Key Facts:

  • The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and Palau “have agreed to temporarily rescind their withdrawal” from the Pacific Islands Forum.
  • In 2020, the five territories had announced that they were quitting the group after their nominee lost the vote for a new forum secretary-general.

What caused the rift?

They said that the majority decision by the 18-nation body to elect former Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna had overridden an informal agreement that the position would be filled by Micronesia and had caused an irreparable rift.

About Pacific Islands Forum:

  • The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is an inter-governmental organization that aims to enhance cooperation between countries and territories of the Pacific Ocean, including the formation of a trade bloc and regional peacekeeping operations.
  • It was founded in 1971 as the South Pacific Forum (SPF).
  • It was founded to enhance the economic and social well-being of its 18 South Pacific islands nations which both the United States and China view as being in strategic locations.
  • It changed its name in 1999 to "Pacific Islands Forum", so as to be more inclusive of the Forum's Oceania-spanning membership of both north and south Pacific island countries, including Australia.
  • It is a United Nations General Assembly observer.
  • It comprises 18 members: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, Fiji, French Polynesia,  New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

India-Australia Energy Dialogue: The 4th India – Australia Energy Dialogue was held on February 15 2022.

The dialogue was co-chaired by Hon’ble Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy, Mr. R.K. Singh from the Indian side and Hon’ble Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Mr. Angus Taylor from the Australian side.

Key Points:

  • The major area of discussion in the dialogue by both the Energy Ministers was energy Transition.
  • The discussion also included various topics such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, storage, electronic vehicles, and critical minerals.
  • India stressed Climate Finance to meet the energy transition's goals.
  • A letter of Intent (LoI) between both the countries on New and Renewable Energy Technology was signed during the Dialogue.
  • This LoI paves the way for working towards reducing the cost of new and renewable energy technologies.
  • It will scale up deployment in order to accelerate global emissions reduction.
  • The main focus of this LoI will be to scale up the manufacture and deployment of ultra low-cost solar and clean hydrogen.
  • The Co-chairs of the five Joint Working Groups under the India – Australia Energy Dialogue viz. Power; New & Renewable Energy; Coal & Mines; Critical Minerals; and Oil & Gas, presented the progress till date and the forward action plan under the respective JWGs.

INDIA-UAE Virtual Summit: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan recently held a Virtual Summit.

Key Highlights:

  • Both leaders expressed deep satisfaction with the continuous growth in bilateral relations in all sectors.
  • A joint vision statement was issued by them.

Joint Vision Statement:

  • PM Modi and the Crown Prince of issued a joint vision statement - "Advancing the India and UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: New Frontiers, New Milestone".
  • The Statement establishes a roadmap for a future-oriented partnership between India and UAE and identifies focus areas and outcomes.
  • The shared objective is to promote new trade, investment and innovation dynamic in diverse sectors, including economy, energy, climate action, emerging technologies, skills and education, food security, healthcare and defence and security.

India-UAE CEPA:

  • A major highlight of the Virtual Summit was the signing and exchange of the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
  • CEPA was by Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Piyush Goyal and Minister of Economy of UAE, H.E. Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri in the virtual presence of the two Leaders.
  • The Agreement will provide significant benefits to Indian and UAE businesses, including enhanced market access and reduced tariffs.
  • It is expected that the CEPA will lead to an increase in bilateral trade from the current USD 60 bn to USD 100 bn in the next 5 years.

Significance of CEPA:

  • The CEPA makes the UAE the preferred partner in the GCC.
  • If a commodity is acceptable to the UAE, then objections to it by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC ) members become less defensible, because, with the India-UAE agreement, Indian goods will flow to the other GCC countries as the UAE has no customs barriers

Other highlights:

  • The two Leaders also released Joint Commemorative Stamp on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and the 50th year of UAE’s foundation.
  • Two MOUs signed between Indian and UAE entities were also announced during the Summit.
  • These are -

1. MOU between APEDA and DP World & Al Dahra on Food Security Corridor Initiative and

2. MOU between India’s Gift City and Abu Dhabi Global Market on cooperation in financial projects and services.

  • Two other MOUs – one on cooperation in Climate Action and the other on Education have also been agreed between the two sides.

India-UAE Relations:

  • India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) enjoy strong bonds of friendship which are founded on millennia-old cultural, religious and economic intercourse between the two regions.
  • People-to-people contacts and barter trade between the two regions have existed for centuries.
  • The relationship flourished after the accession of H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and subsequently with the creation of the UAE Federation in 1971.
  • Both sides have made sincere efforts to improve relations in all fields.

Bilateral Relations:

  • In recent years, bilateral relations between India and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) have strengthened in all areas, and both sides have embarked upon a comprehensive strategic partnership
  • The UAE is India’s third-largest trading partner and second-largest export destination.
  • Bilateral trade between India and the UAE stood at $43.3 billion in 2020-21. Exports were $16.7 billion, and imports, driven by oil, pushed the balance in favour of the UAE at $26.7 billion in 2020-21.

Additional info:

  • Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has FTAs with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) comprising Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, and Singapore.
  • The agreement with the UAE is going to be the second FTA (Free Trade Agreement) signed by the Modi government after a similar pact was signed with Mauritius last April.
  • India is negotiating a raft of other FTAs with Australia, UK, the EU, Israel and Canada.

World Day of Social Justice 2022: World Day of Social Justice is celebrated annually all over the world on 20 February.

Key Points:

  • The day is mainly celebrated to bring awareness among people about the injustice in society and among people of different races and classes.
  • Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.

Objective:

  • The main objective of celebrating World Day of Social Justice is to raise a voice against social injustice and to bring the various communities internationally together to eliminate gender, physical discrimination, illiteracy, poverty, religious discrimination to make a socially integrated society.

Theme:

The theme for the year 2022 is" Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment".

  • History:
  • On 26 November 2007, the General Assembly declared that starting from the sixty-third session of the General Assembly, 20 February will be celebrated annually as the World Day of Social Justice.
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) unanimously adopted the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization on 10 June 2008.
  • The 2008 Declaration expresses the contemporary vision of the ILO’s mandate in the era of globalization.
  • This is the third major statement of principles and policies adopted by the International Labour Conference since the ILO’s Constitution of 1919.
  • It builds on the Philadelphia Declaration of 1944 and the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of 1998.

Russia-Ukraine Conflict: India recently issued an advisory for Indian nationals in Ukraine urging them to consider leaving the country temporarily.

Key Points:

  • The advisory comes amid rising tensions and the probability of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • A formal statement was issued by the Indian Embassy in Kyiv, Ukrain asking students particularly, whose stay is not essential to consider leaving temporarily.
  • They further requested the Indian nationals to keep the embassy informed about the status of their presence in Ukraine so that the Embassy could reach them whenever required.
  • The Indian Nationals have also been advised against all non-essential travel to and within Ukraine.
  • Apart from India and the US, several other countries including Germany, UK, Canada, Australia, Italy, Japan, Israel, Ireland, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, Norway, Luxembourg and Belgium have urged their citizens to leave the country

About Russia-Ukraine Conflict:

  • The Russia-Ukraine Conflict Border has been simmering for more than two months, with diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue showing little sign of progress.
  • Russia has more than 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine, sparking Western warnings of an imminent invasion.
  • It is the highest force mobilization since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
  • United States has warned Russia of severe consequences if there is an invasion.

Background:

  • In November 2013, the Border conflict in Ukraine began with protests in the capital city of Kiev against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to reject a deal for greater economic integration with the European Union (EU).
  • The ongoing crisis stems from the protracted Russo-Ukrainian War that began in early 2014.
  • In March 2014, Russian troops took control of Ukraine’s Crimean region, before formally annexing the peninsula after Crimeans voted to join the Russian Federation in a disputed local referendum.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin cited the need to protect the rights of Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Crimea and southeast Ukraine.
  • The Border conflict heightened ethnic divisions, and two months later pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine held a referendum to declare independence from Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s Kremlin-friendly leader was driven from office by a popular uprising.
  •  In July 2014, the situation in Ukraine escalated into an international conflict and put the US and the EU at odds with Russia when a Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down over Ukrainian airspace, killing all 298 onboard.
  • Moscow responded by annexing the Crimean Peninsula and then backing a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has killed over 14,000 people.
  • A 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany helped halt large-scale battles, but regular skirmishes have continued, and efforts to reach a political settlement have stalled.
  • In December 2021, Russia advanced two draft treaties.
  • The treaty comprised of requests of “security guarantees”, including a legally binding promise that Ukraine would not join North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • It also had a binding promise of a reduction in NATO troops and military hardware in Eastern Europe.
  • However, NATO has rejected these requests by Russia.

Recent developments:

  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that he had sent a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to engage in dialogue within the NATO-Russia Council to avert a conflict in Ukraine.
  • Russia has welcomed India’s position on the Ukraine crisis, amid a spike in tensions between the NATO countries and Moscow over the situation in the eastern European nation.
  • The reaction came a day after India said at the UN Security Council that ‘quiet and constructive diplomacy’ is the need of the hour and that any step that could escalate the tension should be avoided.

About Russia:

  • Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia.
  • Once the preeminent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.; commonly known as the Soviet Union), Russia became an independent country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
  • The capital of Russia is Moscow.
  • The currency used here is the Russian ruble.
  • The current President of Russia is Vladimir Putin.

About Ukraine:

  • It is a country in Eastern Europe.
  • It is bordered by Russia to the north-east; Belarus to the north; Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west; and Romania, Moldova, and the Black Sea to the south.
  • The Capital of Ukraine is Kyiv. The currency used here is Ukrainian hryvnia.
  • The current President of Ukraine is Volodymyr Zelensky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India and Bangladesh Contract: Bangladesh recently signed an agreement to purchase 420 broad-gauge railway wagons from India.

Key Highlights:

  • The agreement was signed in Dhaka on Sunday between the project director of Bangladesh railways Mizanur Rahman and the Hindustan Engineering and Industries Limited.
  • The agreement is worth Tk. 231 crore.
  • It will be implemented within 27 months of the signing of the contract.
  • This project is being implemented with the joint funding of the Government of Bangladesh and Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the Rolling Stock Operation Improvement Project.

About the broad-gauge railway wagons:

  • The broad-gauge railway wagons are high-speed bogies.
  • They have automatic air brake systems so that the general and specialized products like various food grains, fertilizers, stones, wood, etc. can reach the destination safely at low cost and in less time.
  • The wagons are equipped with a stainless steel body.

About Bangladesh:

  • It is a country that is bordered by the Indian states of West Bengal to the west and north, Assam to the north, Meghalaya to the north and northeast, and Tripura and Mizoram to the east.
  • To the southeast, it shares a boundary with Myanmar (Burma).
  • The southern part of Bangladesh opens into the Bay of Bengal.
  • Its capital is Dhaka.
  • The currency used here is Bangladeshi Taka.
  • The Prime Minister of Bangladesh is Sheikh Hasina.

 

ASEAN-India High-Level Conference on Renewable Energy: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) India high-level conference on Renewable Energy virtually commenced on February 7-8 February 2022.

Key Highlights about the conference:

  • The conference on renewable energy is being organized by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of the Government of India (GoI).
  • Secretary of State, Ministry of Mines and Energy of Cambodia Tun Lean the current chair of ASEAN, and Minister of State for New and Renewable Energy Bhagwanth Khuba delivered special addresses.
  • The dignitaries talked about the renewable energy ambitions, progress made and priority areas for their countries and reiterated their commitment to taking India-ASEAN cooperation in the sector forward.
  • Director-General, International Solar Alliance (ISA) briefed the Ministers on the vision and plans of the ISA and potential benefits for ASEAN member countries joining the alliance.
  • The ASEAN-India high-level conference will feature 5 technical sessions which would facilitate peer-to-peer discussions between experts from India and the ASEAN on themes of mutual interest.
  • The high-level conference, over a period of two days, will focus on the theme: “Experience and Innovations for Integrated Renewable Market”.
  • Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy R K Singh delivered the keynote address.

Key Points of MNRE Minister's address:

  • Indian Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy R K Singh highlighted that India and ASEAN can together develop an entire ecosystem for renewable energy (RE).
  • They will also explore the joint initiative to build RE manufacturing hubs in the region.
  • He applauded ASEAN’s efforts for achieving the development of an ASEAN power grid.
  • He said that India foresees opportunities to expand this grid integration beyond ASEAN to the Indian sub-continent in line with the One Sun One World One Grid initiative.
  • He also said that both sides can work together for developing an entire ecosystem for renewable which promotes knowledge sharing, technical assistance and capacity building.
  • He noted that both sides can also explore joint initiatives to develop renewable energy manufacturing hubs in the region.
  • The Minister congratulated Indonesia for taking over the presidency of G20 in 2022 and said that India will work closely with the Indonesian Presidency on facilitating as well as accelerating the global energy transition.
  • He reiterated India’s commitment to work together with ASEAN to establish a strong relationship in the renewable sector based on the foundation of historical and cultural ties between ASEAN and India.
  • The Ministers stressed the need for further strengthening of India-ASEAN cooperation in the renewable sector and looked forward to the conference to identify concrete areas and initiatives in this regard.

Dr. Vibha Dhawan, Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) concluded the Ministerial session with a Vote of Thanks.

About ASEAN:

  • ASEAN refers to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
  • It is a regional intergovernmental organization and it comprises 10 countries in Southeast Asia.
  • It was created on 8 August 1967 by 5 countries namely Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.
  • The ASEAN Secretariat is located in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • It was created with the aim to promote intergovernmental cooperation.
  • The organization also facilitates political, economic, military, educational, security, and socio-cultural integration among its members as well as in other countries in Asia. ASEAN has been India’s utmost priority under its Act East Policy.
  • The 10 member countries are Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Laos

Unitary Digital Identity framework: India has recently agreed to provide a grant to Sri Lanka for implementing a ‘Unitary Digital Identity framework’.

Key Points:

  • The Unitary Digital Identity Framework is apparently modeled on the Aadhaar card.
  • Sri Lanka’s Cabinet decided that the Rajapaksa government will “prioritize” the implementation of the Framework as a national-level programme.
  • Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers on 7th February 2022 granted the approval to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with India to obtain a grant to implement the Unitary Digital Identity framework.
  • Under the proposed Unitary Digital Identity Framework, a personal identity verification device is set to be introduced based on biometric data - a digital tool that can represent the identities of individuals in cyberspace, and the identification of individual identities that can be accurately verified in digital and physical environments by combining the two devices.
  • It also comes amid substantive economic assistance from India — totaling $ 1.4 billion since the beginning of 2022 to Sri Lanka, to help the island nation cope with its dollar crunch, and import food, medicines and fuel amid frequent shortages.

Background:

  • During the bilateral talks between the President and the Prime Minister of India in December 2019, the Government of India (GoI) agreed to provide a grant to implement the Unitary Digital Identity framework.
  • Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal made by the President in his capacity as the Minister of Technology, to work towards the signing of an MoU to obtain the said grant and to implement the proposed project under that grant.

Digitization of identities in Sri Lanka:

  • This is not the first time that Sri Lanka is trying to digitize the identities of citizens.
  • President Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe's administration launched a similar Electronic-National Identity Card (E-NIC) during 2015-2019 but this card was opposed citing that the state would have full access to the personal data of citizens in a central database.
  • The former Mahinda Rajapaksa government too tried to initiate this project in 2011, but it could not be implemented.

About Sri Lanka:

  • Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia.
  • It is located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea.
  • The capitals of Srilanka are Colombo and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
  • Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital while Colombo is the largest city and center of commerce.
  • The currency used here is the Sri Lankan rupee.
  • The current President and Prime Minister of Srilanka are Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa respectively.

World Pulses Day 2022: World Pulses Day is celebrated on February 10 every year across the world to raise awareness about the importance of pulses.

Key Points:

  • The day has been celebrated since 2019 by the United Nations (UN).
  • The day has been established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to recognize the importance of pulses such as lentils, dry peas, dry beans, chickpeas, lupins as a global food.
  • These pulses are affordable for large sections of the population.
  • The day also highlights the need for increased access to these crops among underprivileged sections of the global population.

World Pulses Day 2022 theme:

  • World Pulses Day 2022 is under the theme “Pulses to empower youth in achieving sustainable agri-food systems”.
  • Pulses are important for a healthy diet.
  • This day aims to raise awareness and recognize the contribution of pulses to sustainable food systems and healthy food cycles.

History of the day:

  • In 2018, the UN General Assembly decided to mark 10 February as World Pulses Day.
  • The first WPD was held on February 10, 2019.
  • On 20 December 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/68/231) proclaiming 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP).

About Pulses:

  • Pulses also known as legumes are the edible seeds of leguminous plants cultivated for food.
  • Dried beans, lentils and peas are the most commonly known and consumed types of pulses
  • They contain a variety of nutrients, a substantial amount of minerals, vitamins and a source of protein.

Significance of Pulses:

  • Pulses are important in terms of food security, nutritional value and environmental benefits.
  • These crops are also useful in climate change mitigation.
  • They can reduce dependence on artificial fertilizers for inducing nutrients such as nitrogen into the soil.
  • Legumes improve soil fertility and soil biodiversity.
  • They keep harmful pests away.
  • They can be useful for controlling health issues such as obesity, high blood sugar and cholesterol. According to the UN, legumes have also been recommended by health organizations for the management of heart conditions and diabetes.
  • They are also an important source of income.
  • Farmers can cultivate pulses for both personal consumption and sale, which can help them maintain economic stability and food security.

About FAO:

  • FAO refers to The Food and Agricultural Organization.
  • The FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security.
  • It was founded on 16 October 1945..
  • The FAO is headquartered in Rome, Italy.
  • It is composed of 197 member states.
  • It is governed by a biennial conference representing each member country and the European Union, which elects a 49-member executive council.

Initiatives of FAO:

  • World Food Summits are convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • The first food summit, the "World Food Conference", took place in Rome in 1974.
  • The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is a 1951 multilateral treaty overseen by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Diego Garcia: The Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth on 7 February 2022 announced a "historic visit" by a research vessel to the disputed Chagos Islands, an archipelago it claims in full but which is administered by Britain.

Key Highlights:

  • PM Jugnauth told reporters that a scientific vessel would set out on 8 February 2022 to the remote islands in the Indian Ocean.
  • Among those on board will be Chagos islanders forcibly evicted by Britain in the 1960s and 70s to make way for a military base there.
  • It will be the first time Mauritius has led an expedition to the long-contested islands without requesting permission from the United Kingdom or the United States.
  • It follows a 2019 International Court of Justice ruling that backed the claim by Mauritius and said Britain should give up control of the islands.

About Diego Garcia:

  • It is an island of British Indian Ocean Territory, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.
  • It is the largest of 60 small islands comprising the Chagos Archipelago.
  • The Portuguese were the first Europeans to find it and it was then settled by the French in the 1790s and transferred to British rule after the Napoleonic Wars.
  • In 1965, Britain separated the Chagos Islands from Mauritius and set up a joint military base with the United States on Diego Garcia.

UK- Mauritius Dispute:

  • The Chagos Islands have been at the center of a decades-long dispute over Britain’s decision to separate them from Mauritius in 1965 and set up a joint military base with the US on Diego Garcia
  • Mauritius has fought since 1975 to return the archipelago to its territory.
  • In 2019, the International Court of Justice ruled that Britain should give up control of the islands.
  • Later that year, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly voted in favour of a resolution recognizing that "the Chagos Archipelago forms an integral part of the territory of Mauritius" and recommending Britain withdraw within 6 months.
  • However, Britain, some 9,500 kilometres (5,900 miles) to the west from Chagos, insists the islands belong to London and has refused to leave.
  • It has renewed a lease agreement with the United States to use Diego Garcia until 2036.
  • Diego Garcia played a strategic role during the Cold War, and then as an airbase, including during the war in Afghanistan.
  • Mauritius has described their continued presence as "an illegal administration".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antonio Costa: The Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Costo has been re-elected after his center-left Socialist Party secured a landslide victory in the 2022 Portuguese legislative election.

Key Highlights:

  • The Socialist Party bagged 117 seats in the 230 seats Parliament.
  • In 2019 they had won 108 seats.
  • Despite predictions of a tight race, the main opposition center-right PSD party landed 27.8 % for 71 seats.
  • Antonio Costo is serving as the 119th Prime Minister of Portugal since 26 November 2015.

About Antonio Costa:

  • Antonio Luis Santos da Costa GCIH is a Portuguese lawyer and politician.
  • Costa, who came to power in 2015 in the aftermath of a 2011-14 debt crisis, has presided over a period of steady economic growth that helped decrease the budget deficit and even ekes out a small surplus in 2019 before the pandemic struck.
  • Previously, he was Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs from 1995 to 1997.
  • Then Minister of Parliamentary Affairs from 1997 to 1999.
  • Then Minister of Justice from 1999 to 2002.
  • Then Minister of Internal Administration from 2005 to 2007.
  • Then he became the Mayor of Lisbon from 2007 to 2015.
  • He was elected as Secretary-General of the Socialist Party in September 2014.

Antonio Costa links with India:

  • Costa's father's family comes from Goa; his grandfather was born in the former Portuguese colony and lived there for the majority of his life.
  • António Costa is known in India as "Babush," a Konkani name that means "a young loved one."
  • Costa received the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman in January 2017 while visiting his ancestral home in Goa.
  • Costa, a skillful negotiator, became known in Portugal as the "Gandhi of Lisbon" for his work as mayor of Portugal's capital city in turning around a crime-infested neighbourhood.

About Portugal:

  • Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic is a country whose mainland is located on the Iberian Peninsula, in Southwestern Europe.
  • The country's territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira.
  • It features the westernmost point in mainland Europe, and its Iberian portion is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain.
  • Spain is the sole country to have a land border with Portugal.
  • The Capital of Portugal is Lisbon.
  • The currency used here is Euro.
  • The current President of Portugal is Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

UNEP@50: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022.

Key Highlights:

This year the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly will be followed by a special session, called UNEP@50, to be held 3 - 4 March 2022.

The special session will be held under the overall theme of "Strengthening UNEP for the implementation of the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

About UNEP:

  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was founded on 5 June 1972 by Canadian businessman and philanthropist Maurice Strong.
  • It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. The current Executive Director of UNEP is Inger Andersen and the current Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific, UNEP is Dechen Tsering.
  • It is responsible for coordinating the UN's environmental activities and assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices.
  • It is the global champion for the environment with programmes focusing on sustainable development, climate, biodiversity and more.
  • UNEP categorizes its work into seven broad thematic areas:
  1. Climate change
  2. Disasters and conflicts
  3. Ecosystem management
  4. Environmental governance
  5. Chemicals and waste
  6. Resource efficiency
  7. Environment under review
  • UNEP works closely with its 193 Member States and representatives from civil society, businesses, and other major groups and stakeholders to address environmental challenges through the UN Environment Assembly, the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.

Major Reports by UNEP:

  • Emission Gap Report,
  • Global Environment Outlook,
  • Frontiers,
  • Invest in Healthy Planet.

Major Campaigns of UNEP:

Its major campaigns are:

  • Beat Pollution
  • UN75
  • World Environment Day
  • Wild for Life

UNEP's Key milestones and timeline:

  • In 1972, Maurice Strong was elected as the first head of UNEP.
  • In 1973, UNEP opened its first headquarters. On 2 October at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
  • In 1973, the Leaders signed the Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
  • In 1973, States adopted the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES became a UNEP-administered multilateral environmental agreement in 1984.
  • In 1974, World Environment Day made its debut.
  • The world celebrates the first World Environment Day organized by UNEP on 5 June under the theme “Only One Earth.”
  • In 1974, Regional Seas Programme was established.
  • In 1976, on 16 February the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) was adopted in Barcelona and entered into force in 1978.
  • In 1979, the States adopted Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) which is also known as the Bonn Convention.
  • CMS operational bodies include the Conference of the Parties (COP), the Standing Committee, the Scientific Council and a Secretariat provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

About Secretariats hosted by UNEP:

UNEP hosts the secretariats of many critical multilateral environmental agreements and research bodies.

These include the following:

  1. The Convention on Biological Diversity
  2. The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
  3. The Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol
  4. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
  5. The Minamata Convention on Mercury
  6. The Convention on Migratory Species
  7. The Carpathian Convention
  8. The Bamako Convention
  9. The Tehran Convention

North Korea Missile Test: North Korea recently conducted its biggest missile launch.

Key Highlights:

North Korea successfully tested its Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile from the Jagang Province area.

North Korea has claimed the missile is extremely powerful and can travel hundreds of miles.

It also has the ability to strike the US Northern Pacific command of Guam.

This was the first nuclear-capable missile testing undertaken by the country since 2017.

Key Points:

  • The testing program began with a new "hypersonic missile."
  • The test was an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which would be the biggest missile tested since November 2017.
  • The missile reached an altitude of 2,000km and flew for 30 minutes to a distance of 800km.
  • Finally, it landed in the Sea of Japan.

North Korea has conducted a record number of seven missile launches in the month of January 2022 alone - which was strongly condemned by the US, South Korea, Japan, and other nations.

The UN prohibits North Korea from ballistic and nuclear weapons tests and has imposed strict sanctions, but the East Asian state regularly defies the ban.

Guam:

  • Guam is a U.S. island territory in Micronesia, in the Micronesia subregion of the western Pacific Ocean.
  • It is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States.
  • In Oceania, it is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands and the largest island in Micronesia.
  • The capital of Guam is Hagåtña.

Note:

  • People born in Guam are American citizens but have no vote in the United States presidential elections.
  • Indigenous Guamanians are the Chamoru, historically known as the Chamorro, who are related to the Austronesian peoples of Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

About North Korea:

  • North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula.
  • It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu and Tumen rivers, and South Korea to the south at the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
  • Its western border is formed by the Yellow Sea, while its eastern border is defined by the Sea of Japan.
  • The Capital of North Korea is Pyongyang.
  • The currency used here is North Korean won.
  • The Supreme leader of North Korea is Kim Jong-un.

Burkina Faso: In Burkina Faso, the military government announced that it has restored the constitution a week after taking power and has appointed the coup’s leader as head of state for a transitional period.

Key Details:

  • Just hours earlier, the African Union's 15-member Peace and Security Council announced that it had voted to suspend the participation of Burkina Faso in all AU activities until the effective restoration of constitutional order in the country.
  • On January 24, rebel soldiers had detained President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and imposed army rule on the country.

About Burkina Faso:

  • Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa,.
  • It is bordered by Mali to the northwest, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and the Ivory Coast to the southwest.
  • Its capital city is Ouagadougou.
  • The currency used here is the West African CFA franc.

World Interfaith Harmony Week:  World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) is observed during the first week of February i.e. 1 to 7, annually.

Key Points:

  • WIHW is held every year after General Assembly designation in 2010.
  • It was conceived to promote cultural peace and nonviolence.
  • The WIHW is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative.

Common Word Initiative:

  • WIHW is built on The Common Word initiative's groundbreaking work.
  • This initiative was started in 2007.
  • It called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments i.e. Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless jeopardizing any of their own religious beliefs.
  • The Two commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore provide the most solid theological ground possible.

Events to observe WIHW:

  • World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a platform, where all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can showcase to the world what a powerful movement they are.
  • Organizations worldwide are asked to host events promoting interfaith cooperation, with the added incentive of three annual prizes donated by Jordan's King, worth $25000, $15000, and $5000, respectively, with gold, silver, and bronze model.
  • The prize, which the King personally delivered at a ceremony in Amman, is based on the judgment of a jury that included Princess Areej Ghazi and Patriarch Theophilus of Jerusalem, among others.

History:

  • World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW), conceived to promote culture, peace and nonviolence, was first proposed by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the United Nations in 2010.

 

Nordic "Clinker Boats": United Nations (UN) culture agency, UNESCO, in December 2021 added Nordic “clinker boats” to its list of traditions that represent the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Key Highlights:

  • Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway jointly sought the UNESCO designation.
  • The UNESCO nomination was signed by around 200 communities and cultural bearers in the field of construction and traditional clinker boat craftsmanship, including Sami communities.
  • For thousands of years, these wooden sailboats allowed the peoples of Northern Europe to spread influence, trade, and sometimes war across seas and continents.
  • The term “clinker” is believed to refer to the way its wooden boards were fastened together.
  • Supporters of the successful nomination hope it will safeguard and preserve the boat-building techniques that drove the Viking era for future generations as the number of active clinker craftsmen fades and fishermen and others opt for vessels with cheaper glass fiber hulls.
  • There are only about 20 practicing clinker boat craftsmen in Denmark, perhaps 200 across all of northern Europe.

Characteristics of Wooden Clinker Boats:

  • Wooden clinker boats are characterized by the use of overlapping longitudinal wooden hull planks that are sewn or riveted together.
  • Builders strengthen the boats internally by additional wooden components, mainly tall oak trees, which constitute the ribs of the vessel.
  • They stuff the gaps in between with tar or tallow mixed with wool, animal hair, and moss.

Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde:

  • The Viking Ship Museum is located in Roskilde, west of Copenhagen.
  • The museum not only exhibits the remains of wooden vessels built 1,000 years ago but also works to rebuild and reconstruct other Viking boats.
  • The process of construction involves the use of experimental archaeological methods to gain a deeper and more practical understanding of the Viking Age.

About World Heritage Site:

  • World Heritage Site is an area or landmark, which is legally protected by an international convention administered by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
  • These Sites are designated by UNESCO for having historical, cultural, scientific, or other forms of significance.
  • The sites are judged for comprising “cultural and natural heritage worldwide, considered to be important to humanity”.

World Heritage Sites in India and World:

  • At present, there are 40 World Heritage Sites located in India.
  • Out of these, 32 are cultural, 7 are natural, and 1 is mixed (meeting both cultural and natural criteria), as determined by the organization's selection criteria.
  • India has the sixth-largest number of sites in the world.
  • As of July 2021, there are 1,154 World Heritage Sites, across 167 countries.
  • Out of them, 897 are cultural, 218 natural, and 39 are mixed properties.
  • Italy, with 58 selected areas, is the country with the greatest number of sites on the UNESCO List.

America COMPETES Act of 2022: The United States House of Representatives, On January 25, unveiled the ambitious America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act of 2022 ( in short America COMPETES Act of 2022).

COMPETE Act of 2022 proposes to open up new vistas for talented individuals from across the world with a new start-up visa.

Key Features of the Act:

  • The act is an important step forward in advancing the legislation that would establish new innovation initiatives and set funding targets that, if met, would add billions of dollars to the current annual budgets of selected research agencies.
  • It would also help to outcompete China and the rest of the world for decades to come.
  • The Bill provides 52 million USD to encourage semiconductor production in the US and 45 million USD to provide grants and loans and improve manufacturing and supply chain resilience.
  • In addition, the fund has also been allocated to address climate change, social and economic inequality and immigration
  • Furthermore, the Bill also authorizes 600 million USD a year to construct manufacturing facilities to make the US less reliant on solar components made in Xinjiang, China.
  • The act creates a new green card for entrepreneurs and also offers an exemption for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) experts.
  • The act creates a new “W” classification. They are the non–immigrant entrepreneurs.

Objectives of the Act:

  • The main objective of this act is that it seeks to represent the sort of transformational investments in the American industrial base and research and development that helped power the US to lead the global economy in the 20th century.
  • It also helped to expand opportunities for middle-class families.

Importance of the act for the Indians:

  • It would mean more opportunities for Indian talent and for skilled workers in the US.
  • The Indians use H1-B work permits predominantly.
  • They have a major share in H1-B. The act further widens the opportunities for Indian professionals.

Background:

  • Every year, the US administration provides a specific number of VISAs every year to fill in the job vacancies.
  • This is done to allow the low – cost highly skilled IT professionals to fill in the vacancies.
  • Through these VISAs, the companies on foreign soil send their employees to the US.
  • The companies gain knowledge as assets and US gains cheap workers.

Visas offered by the US Government:

  • H1-B visa: They are issued for people in Specialty operations.
  • The people should have higher educational qualification to obtain this visa.
  • This visa is popular among Indians.
  • H2-B Visa: They are for seasonal workers in hospitality industries.
  • L-1 Visa: The VISA allows American companies to transfer workers to American soil for a period of seven years.
  • H-4 Visa: It is used by the dependents of H-1B Visa holders.
  • J-1 Visa: It is used by students entering American soil for study purposes

India-Central Asia Summit: Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted the 1st India-Central Asia Summit in virtual format on 27 January 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • This first India-Central Asia was attended by Presidents of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Republic of Uzbekistan.
  • The summit coincided with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Central Asian countries.

Key Points of the summit:

  • During the Summit, in a historic decision, the Leaders agreed to institutionalize the Summit mechanism by deciding to hold it every 2 years.
  • They also agreed on regular meetings of Foreign Ministers, Trade Ministers, Culture Ministers and Secretaries of the Security Council to prepare the groundwork for the Summit meetings.
  • An India-Central Asia Secretariat in New Delhi would be set up to support the new mechanism.
  • The Leaders discussed far-reaching proposals to further cooperation in the following areas:-
  • Trade and connectivity
  • Development cooperation
  • Defence and security and
  • On cultural and people to people contacts
  • These included a Round-Table on Energy and Connectivity; Joint Working Groups at senior official level on Afghanistan and use of Chabahar Port; showcasing of Buddhist exhibitions in Central Asian countries and commissioning of an India-Central Asia dictionary of common words, joint counter-terrorism exercises, visit of 100 member youth delegation annually from Central Asian countries to India and special courses for Central Asian diplomats.
  • PM Modi also discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan with the Central Asian leaders.
  • The leaders reiterated their strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan with a truly representative and inclusive government.
  • They also agreed to set up Joint Working Groups (JWG) at the senior official level in Afghanistan.
  • Prime Minister conveyed India’s continued commitment to providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

Objective of the summit:

  • The main objective of the summit is to make it clear that the cooperation between India and Central Asia is essential for regional security and prosperity.
  • The objective is not only to give an effective structure to the cooperation but also to create an ambitious roadmap for this cooperation.

India - Central Asia Cooperation:

  • The cooperation between Uzbekistan and the Central as well as the State Government of India is increasing.
  • India and Krygyzstan are partners in the field of high-altitude research and education.
  • Kazakhstan is a vital partner for India's energy security.
  • India and Tajikistan cooperate in the field of security.
  • Turkmenistan is an important part of the Indian vision in the field of regional connectivity.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust (International Holocaust Remembrance Day) is observed on 27 January every year.

The day is also observed to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945.

Theme for 2022:

  • The theme for 2022 is guiding the United Nations Holocaust remembrance and education is “Memory, Dignity and Justice”.
  • The theme focuses on safeguarding historical records, remembering victims, and challenging distortion of history, which is often expressed in contemporary antisemitism.
  • It also encourages action to challenge hatred, champion compassion and strengthen solidarity.

Objective:

  • The objective of Remembrance Day is to commemorate the anniversary of the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War.
  • The Day also aims to promote Holocaust education, an especially timely mission with antisemitic incidents and Holocaust denialism on the rise in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

History of the day:

Nearly two decades ago, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2005 designated January 27th an annual day of commemoration for its member states, in honor of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism. (In addition to marking the anniversary of Auschwitz-Birkenau, many countries hold national commemoration ceremonies on other dates connected to the Holocaust).

  • Genocide occurred during World War II in which Nazi Germany, aided by its collaborators, systematically murdered some six million European Jews, around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe, between 1941 and 1945.

Xiomara Castro: Xiomara Castro has become the first female president of Honduras on January 27, 2022 with United States Vice President Kamala Harris in attendanc.

Key Highlights:

  • She is a former first lady of Honduras, as she is the wife of former President Manuel Zelaya who was deposed in a coup in 2009.
  • Castro won on her third try for the presidency.
  • The inauguration ceremony was witnessed by thousands of people amid a sea of waving flags in the national stadium in the country's capital, Tegucigalpa.
  • Castro’s inauguration has brought an end to the 8-year rule of Juan Orlando Hernandez, a one-time US ally, who is currently facing charges of corruption in US courts.

About Honduras:

  • Honduras, officially Republic of Honduras, is a country in Central America.
  • The republic of Honduras is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras, a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea.
  • Its capital and largest city is Tegucigalpa.
  • The currency used here is Honduran lempira.

Note: The literal meaning of the term "Honduras" is "depths" in Spanish.

World's-Largest Canal Lock: The world’s largest canal lock has been inaugurated at Ijmuiden, a small port city, in the Port of Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Dutch King Willen-Alexander.

Key Points:

  • Ijmuiden is a port city connecting the North Sea Canal with the port of Amsterdam.
  • The sea lock at Ijmuiden is 500 meters (1,640 ft) long and 70 meters broad.
  • The construction of the major infrastructure project began in 2016 and and was supposed to be completed by 2019.
  • It also exceeded the initial budget by €300 million due to construction setbacks.
  • The Ijmuiden lock was designed to allow large, modern cargo ships to reach the port of Amsterdam.
  • The ships will no longer have to wait for a favourable water level to enter the canal as the structure is deep enough.
  • With almost nine meters above the sea leave, the structure is also a defence against the threat of flooding.

About Netherlands:

  • The Netherlands is a country located in Western Europe with overseas territories in the Caribbean.
  • Note: the Netherlands means low-lying country.
  • It is a republic with a constitutional monarchy.
  • The country is sometimes called Holland, but the name only applies to two provinces, North and South Holland, which border the North Sea in Amsterdam and The Hague.
  • The four largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.
  • Its capital city is Amsterdam.
  • The currency used here is Euro.

Protests against Lithium Mining: The Serbia government has revoked the licenses for lithium mining to Rio Tinto following protests for nearly two months.

Rio Tinto is an Anglo-Australian multinational mining organization.

Key Highlights:

  • Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has put an end to Rio Tinto in the country.
  • All the licences linked to the lithium project had been declared invalid and it was an end for the project.

Why were the Serbians Protesting?

  • Serbians have been protesting against Rio Tinto’s plans to mine lithium in the Jadar valley near Lozinca town in the country.
  • Rio Tinto had discovered lithium deposits in the country in 2006 and had bought land in the Lozinca area in Serbia
  • The mine would have produced enough lithium to operate one million electric vehicles along with boric acid and sodium sulfate.
  • When fully functional, the mine would have created “58,000 tonnes of refined battery-grade lithium carbonate” every year, which would have made it Europe’s most lithium-producing mine.

What’s the concern?

  • While Rio Tinto has been said to be fulfilling all Serbia’s and European Union’s environmental standards, protestors have been pointing out that the country has already been ridden with industrial pollution and lithium mining in the $2.4-billion project would irrevocably pollute the drinking water.
  • Serbian capital Belgrade is surrounded by lignite mines and coal power plants powered by these mines, which only make the pollution worse.

Note:

  • Serbia has ranked as Europe’s fifth and the world’s 32nd most polluted country in a list of 98 countries.
  • According to a 2019 report by Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, Serbia is one of the top ten countries with the most deaths due to pollution — 175 deaths per 100,000.

About Lithium:

  • Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3.
  • It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal and a rare metal.
  • Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.
  • Like all alkali metals, it is highly reactive and flammable and must be stored in vacuum, inert atmosphere, or inert liquid such as purified kerosene or mineral oil.

Key Characteristics and Properties:

  • It has the highest specific heat capacity of any solid element.
  • Lithium’s single balance electron allows it to be a good conductor of electricity.
  • It is flammable and can even explode when exposed to air and water.

 Uses:

  • Lithium is a key element for new technologies and finds its use in glass, ceramics, telecommunication and aerospace industries.
  • The well-known uses of Lithium are in Lithium-ion batteries, lubricating grease, high energy additives to rocket propellants, optical modulators for mobile phones.
  • It is also used as a convertor to tritium used as a raw material for thermonuclear reactions i.e. fusion.
  • For related reasons, lithium has important uses in nuclear physics.
  • The transmutation of lithium atoms to helium in 1932 was the first fully man-made nuclear reaction, and lithium deuteride serves as a fusion fuel in staged thermonuclear weapons.

About Serbia:

  • Serbia, officially the Republic of Serbia is a landlocked country in Southeast Europe.
  • It is located at the crossroads of the Pannonian Plain and the Balkans, bordering Hungary to the north, Romania to the northeast, Bulgaria to the southeast, North Macedonia to the south, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the west, and Montenegro to the southwest, and claiming a border with Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo.
  • It is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic.
  • The capital city of Serbia is Belgrade.
  • The currency used here is Serbian dinar.

Current International Events - January 2022

State of the World: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on January 17, 2022, virtually delivered his ‘State of the World’ special address at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Davos Agenda.

Key Highlights of the address:

  • In his address, PM Modi said that today, India is providing a record number of software engineers.
  • More than 50 lakh software developers are working in India.
  • He presented India as one of the world’s future tech and economic powerhouses.
  • He underlined the role played by India in handling the Covid-19 led crisis and managing the vaccination drive.
  • He also highlighted the need to reshape and restructure international organizations, like United Nations.
  • He spoke of India’s huge, safe and successful digital payments platform and informed that in the last month itself more than 4.4 billion transactions took place through Unified Payments Interface.
  • He said that India has more than 60 thousand start-ups at present as compared to mere 100 start-ups in 2014.
  • Out of which 80 are unicorns and more than 40 unicorns emerged in 2021 itself.
  • He pointed out that India has deregulated areas like Space, Geo-spatial mapping, Drones and has brought reforms in the outdated telecom regulation related to the IT and BPO sectors.
  • Referring to the Mission LIFE, which he gave at the CoP26 conference, the PM said that making LIFE into a mass movement can be a strong foundation for P-3 i.e. ‘Pro Planet People’.
  • LIFE i.e. ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ is a vision of a resilient and sustainable lifestyle that will come in handy in dealing with the climate crisis and other unpredictable challenges of the future.

About The Davos Agenda 2022:

  • The Davos Agenda virtual event offers the first global platform of 2022 for world leaders to come together to share their visions for the year ahead.
  • The week-long virtual event, taking place on the World Economic Forum (WEF) website and social media channels from 17-21 January 2022, will feature heads of state and government, CEOs and other leaders

 

US Bill on Rare Earth supplies: The US government has recently proposed a law aiming to end China’s alleged “chokehold” on rare-earth metal supplies.

Aim:

  • The law, proposed by Democrat Mark Kelly and Republican Tom Cotton, aims to “protect the US from the threat of rare-earth element supply disruptions.
  • It also aims is to encourage domestic production of those elements, and reduce its reliance on China.

What is the reason for such a bill?

  • The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a chokehold on global rare-earth element supplies.
  • The rare earth metals are used almost in every latest technology starting from electric batteries to fighter jets.
  • Ending America's dependence on the CCP for extraction and processing of these elements is critical to winning the strategic competition against China and protecting the national security of the US.
  • As per the United States Geological Survey (USGS), eighty percent of the United States' rare-earth imports in 2019 were from China.

Key Points of the bill:

  • The law requires the departments of the Interior and Defense to create a "strategic reserve" of rare earth minerals by 2025.
  • The reserve shall be maintained by the Department of Defence and Interiors.
  • The reserve shall be tasked with responding to serve the needs of the tech sector, US army and other essential infrastructural needs.
  • The capacity of the reserve should suffice American rare–earth metal needs for a period of one year.
  • It has urged the Commerce Department to investigate Beijing's "unfair trade practices" and impose higher customs duties accordingly.
  • It also restricts the use of Chinese rare–earth metals in sophisticated defence equipment.
  • The bill aims to provide higher transparency on the origin of the components.

About Rare Earth Metals:

  • They are a set of seventeen metallic elements in the periodic table of Rare Earth Metals.
  • These include the 15 lanthanides on the periodic table in addition to scandium and yttrium that show similar physical and chemical properties to the lanthanides.
  • The 17 Rare Earths are cerium (Ce), dysprosium (Dy), erbium (Er), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), holmium (Ho), lanthanum (La), lutetium (Lu), neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm), scandium (Sc), terbium (Tb), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb), and yttrium (Y).

Why are they called Rare Earth Metals?

  • They are called 'rare earth' because earlier it was difficult to extract them from their oxides forms technologically.
  • They occur in many minerals but typically in low concentrations to be refined in an economical manner.

Uses of Rare Earth Metals:

  • As these minerals have unique magnetic, luminescent, and electrochemical properties, they are mainly used in many modern technologies such as mobile phones, flat-screen monitors and televisions, electric and hybrid vehicles, including consumer electronics, computers and networks, communications, health care, national defense such as radar, lasers, sonar systems and electronic displays, etc.
  • Even futuristic technologies need these REEs.
  • For instance - High-temperature superconductivity, safe storage and transport of hydrogen for a post-hydrocarbon economy, environmental global warming and energy efficiency issues.

Heavy dependence on China:

  • In 2019, the US imported 80% of its rare earth minerals from China while the European Union gets 98% of its supply from China.
  • India has the world’s fifth-largest reserves of rare earth elements, nearly twice as much as Australia, but it imports most of its rare earth needs in finished form from China.

 

Nusantara: Indonesia’s parliament on 18 January 2022 passed a law approving the relocation of its capital from slowly sinking Jakarta.

Key Highlights:

  • The Indonesian capital will be relocated to a site 2,000 kilometers away on jungle-clad Borneo Island.
  • The capital will be named “Nusantara”.
  • Nusantara", which means "archipelago", was chosen from a list of 80 names because it was widely recognizable by Indonesians and easy to memorize.
  • The new capital will cover about 56,180 hectares (216 square miles) in East Kalimantan province on the Indonesian part of Borneo, which the country shares with Malaysia and Brunei.
  • The House of Representatives vote provides the legal framework for the move.
  • The move was first tipped by President Joko Widodo in April 2019, citing rising sea levels and severe congestion on densely populated Java Island.
  • Home to more than 30 million people in its greater metro area, Jakarta has long been plagued by serious infrastructure problems and flooding exacerbated by climate change, with experts predicting up to a third of the city could be underwater by 2050.

About Jakarta:

  • Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia lies on the northwest coast of Java.
  • The largest islands in Indonesia are Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Sulawesi, and the Indonesian part of New Guinea (known as Papua or Irian Jaya).
  • Jakarta has been Indonesia’s capital since the country became independent in 1949.

Other countries that relocated their capitals:

  • In 1960, Brazil changed from Rio De Janeiro to Brasilia. Brasilia is more centrally located
  • In 1991, Nigeria changed its capital from Lagos to Abuja.
  • Kazakhstan changed its capital from Almaty to Nur – sultan.
  • Malaysia moved its government to Putrajaya from Kuala Lumpur in 2003.
  • Myanmar moved its capital to Naypyidaw from Rangoon in 2006.

About Indonesia:

  • Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian and Pacific oceans.
  • It consists of over seventeen thousand islands, including Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, and parts of Borneo and New Guinea.
  • The currency used here is the Indonesian Rupiah.
  • The current President of Indonesia is Joko Widodo.

About SLR:

  • Sea Level Rise is an increase in the level of the world’s oceans due to the effects of climate change, especially global warming.
  • It is induced by three primary factors:
  1. Thermal Expansion
  2. Melting Glaciers and Loss of Greenland
  3. Antarctica’s ice sheets.
  • Sea level is primarily measured using tide stations and satellite laser altimeters.
  • The global sea level has been rising over the past century, and the rate has accelerated in recent decades.

 

Global Cyber security Outlook 2022: The Global Cyber security Outlook 2022 was recently published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) during its online Davos Agenda summit.

  • The Global Cybersecurity Outlook flagship report identifies the trends and analyzes the near-term future cybersecurity challenges.

Key Points of the report:

  • In 2021, the accelerating pace of digitalization, fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to the increase of ransomware attacks by 151%.
  • Each organization faced an average of 270 cyber-attacks.
  • Each successful cyber breach cost a company $3.6 million (almost Rs. 27 crore).
  • With the surge in the global digital economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercrime also increased.
  • As per the survey, Ransomware is the topmost concern for organizations when it comes to cyberattacks, followed by ‘social engineering’ (such as through phishing emails), and malicious insider activity.
  • The WEF report stressed that companies must now embrace cyber resilience for not only defending against cyberattacks but also preparing for swift and timely incident response and recovery when an attack does occur.

What are the findings based on?

  • The findings are based on a survey of 120 cyber leaders from 20 countries over 2021 across the world.
  • The WEF Centre for Cybersecurity held the survey in collaboration with the consultancy firm Accenture.
  • In addition to the survey, information was gathered through a series of ‘Cyber Outlook’ sessions, interviews and ‘bilateral meetings’, and data from WEF reports, research and articles and third parties.

Aim of the Report:

  • The aim of this report is to provide an in-depth analysis of the challenges that security leaders are dealing with, the approaches they are taking to stay ahead of cybercriminals and the measures they are implementing to enhance cyber resilience not only within their organizations but also within the wider ecosystem.

 

India & Denmark-Green Partnership: India & Denmark agreed to initiate joint research and development on green fuels including green hydrogen.

Note: Green energy is any energy type that is generated from natural resources, such as sunlight, wind, or water.

Key Highlights:

  • The agreement was signed by both countries during the Joint Science & Technology (S&T) Committee meeting on 14th January 2022.
  • The meeting was co-chaired by S. K. Varshney, Adviser & Head, International Cooperation, Department of Science & Technology (DST, and Dr. Stine Jørgensen, Deputy Director of the Danish Agency for Higher Education and Science of Denmark.

Key Points about the Meeting:

  • The Joint Committee discussed national strategic priorities and developments in Science, Technology and Innovation of both countries.
  • They put a special focus on green solutions of the future - strategy for investments in green research, technology, and innovation at the virtual meeting.
  • The committee emphasized on development of bilateral collaboration on mission-driven research, innovation, and technology development.
  • The discussion included matters like climate and green transition, energy, water, waste, food, and so on as agreed by the two Prime Ministers when they adopted the Green Strategic Partnership – Action Plan 2020-2025.
  • The Joint Committee also reviewed the progress of the ongoing projects of the last two joint calls.
  • These ongoing projects are being implemented in the areas of
  • Energy research;
  • Water
  • Cyber-physical systems
  • Bio-resources & secondary agriculture

Significance of Green Strategic Partnership:

  • The Green Strategic Partnership significantly expands and strengthens bilateral relations and cooperation between India and Denmark.
  • It established diplomatic relations more than 70 years ago and trade relations 400 years ago.
  • The collaboration between both countries is based on mutual interests, shared values, and a commitment to upholding the international rules-based system.

About Denmark:

  • Denmark officially the Kingdom of Denmark is a Nordic country in Northern Europe.
  • It is a Scandinavian country comprising the Jutland Peninsula and around 406 islands.
  • It is bordered to the west by the North Sea, and its islands are located on the sea lane from the Baltic to the main oceans of the world, as well as the trade route from the Nordic countries to Central Europe.
  • It is an independent country since the late 10th century and is also one of the oldest states of Europe. The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen.
  • The currency used here is the Danish Krone.
  • The current prime minister of Denmark is Mette Frederiksen.

Fact: It is a founding member of NATO, Nordic Council, OECD, OSCE, and United Nations.

 

India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F): Experts from India and Israel recently deliberated on widening the scope of India-Israel (I4F) at its 8th Governing Body meeting.

Note: I4F is India – Israel Industrial Research and Development (R&D) technological Innovation fund.

Key Details:

  • They approved 3 joint R&D projects worth 5.5 million USD. They are as follows:

1. Centrally monitored Internet of Things Nanosensors for Molecular diagnostic in health care

2. Internet of Things enabled satellite communication for real-time agriculture and environmental data collection

3.NoMoreMos: It is a mosquito control biological solution

  • The fund is basically to be used for projects in the field of health care, mosquito control and agriculture.
  • They also suggested measures to create a broader India-Israel collaborative ecosystem.

I4F 2.0:

  • During the governing body meet, the members mutually decided on a strategy for the new phase of I4F 2.0.
  • Both the countries will widen the scope of the fund by determining technical feasibility and market acceptability of new products or technologies, co-developing products or technologies for commercialization, co-testbed products or technologies for commercialization in research and development and pilot areas.

About India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F):

  • India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F) fund is a collaboration between the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India (GoI), and the Israel Innovation Authority, Government of Israel.

Objective:

  • Its main objective is to promote, facilitate and support joint industrial R&D projects between companies from India and Israel to address the challenges in the agreed ‘Focus Sectors’.

Focus Sectors:

  • The focus sectors include Telecom, agriculture, IT, pharmaceuticals, and homeland security.
  • Of all the sectors, their relation is deep in agriculture.

About Indo-Israeli Agriculture Project:

  • The Indo–Israeli Agriculture Project (IIAP) is being implemented for more than ten years now.
  • Some of the successful outcomes of the project include the following -
  • Successful growing of cherry tomatoes in Haryana,
  • Rejuvenating mango orchards in Maharashtra, and
  • Demonstrating to Indian farmers the effectiveness of state-of-the-art irrigation technologies.

Aim

  • The aim of I4F is to promote, facilitate and support joint industrial R&D between India & Israel, which would lead to the co-development and commercialization of innovative technologies benefiting both countries.

Implementing Agency:

  • Global Innovation & Technology Alliance (GITA) is appointed to implement the I4F program in India, while Israel Innovation Authority is the implementing agency in Israel.

About Israel:

  • Israel formally known as the State of Israel is a country in Western Asia.
  • It is located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It is regarded as the biblical Holy Land by Jews, Muslims and Christians.
  • Its most sacred sites are in Jerusalem which is also the Capital of Israel.
  • The currency used here is the Israeli Shekel.
  • The current President and Prime Minister of Israel are Isaac Herzog Prime Minister and Naftali Bennett respectively.

Gateway to Hell: Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov recently ordered officials to find a method of finally extinguishing the ‘Gateway to Hell’ in the country.

Key Points:

  • Gateway to Hell is the raging flames, burning for five decades in a large natural gas crater in the Karakum desert in Turkmenistan.
  • This decision was taken as man-made crater “negatively affects the environment as well as the health of the people living nearby.
  • This was also causing loss of valuable natural resources for which significant profits could be got which could be used for improving the well-being of the people of Turkmenistan.
  • However, this is not the first time, when officials have been ordered to find a way to extinguish the huge fire.
  • In 2010, Berdymukhamedov had ordered experts to find a way to put out the flames that have been burning ever since a Soviet drilling operation went awry in 1971.

About Darvaza gas crater:

  • The Darvaza gas crater also known as the Door to Hell or Gateway to Hell is 225 feet wide (69 meters), 99 feet (30 meters) deep, has a diameter of 70 meters, and an area of 5.5 square meters.
  • The natural gas field in the Darwaza region runs under the Caspian Sea, occupies about eight billion square kilometers, and ranks among the top ten largest natural gas reserves in the world.

How was the crater formed?

  • The formation of this crater is not a natural phenomenon but a human disaster.
  • It is believed that the cause was a simple miscalculation by Soviet scientists.
  • The crater was created in 1971 during a Soviet drilling accident that hit a gas cavern, causing the drilling rig to fall in and the earth to collapse underneath it.
  • This released toxic methane gas into the atmosphere.
  • To prevent the dangerous fumes from spreading, the Soviets decided to burn off the gas by setting it on fire.
  • They underestimated the amount of fuel that lay below.
  • The flame did not get extinguished and is still burning continuously since 1971.

Fun Fact:

  • The burning crater is a popular tourist attraction in the ex-Soviet country.

Note: Turkmenistan is an ex-Soviet nation.

  • In 2018, the president officially renamed it to the "Shining of Karakum".

About Turkmenistan:

  • Turkmenistan also known as Turkmenia, is a sovereign country in Central Asia.
  • It is bordered by the Caspian Sea and largely covered by the Karakum Desert.
  • Its Capital is Ashgabat and its official language is Turkmen.
  • The currency used here is Turkmenistan manat.
  • The current President of Turkmenistan is Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is observed every year on January 11th to raise awareness about the ongoing problem of human trafficking.

Key points:

  • Though the entire month of January has already been recognized as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, this day is specifically dedicated to awareness and prevention of illegal practice.

History:

  • In 2007, the United States Senate ratified the resolution establishing January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
  • In 2010, President Obama dedicated the entire month of January to awareness and prevention of human trafficking.

Slavery was officially abolished in the USA by the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865 however, human trafficking is growing at an alarming rate and despite the USA being a first-world country, human trafficking has become a lucrative business for some members of society.

Nearly 20-30 million people are now enslaved worldwide, which is more than at any other time in human history.

Cause of Human Trafficking:

Human trafficking is often driven by the following factors:

  • Poverty
  • Lack of education
  • Government corruption
  • War
  • Lack of human rights protections

Daniel Ortega: Nicaraguan President José Daniel Ortega Saavedra was sworn in for a new presidential term.

Key Highlights:

  • He is the leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).
  • This marks his 5th term and 4th consecutive term as the President of Nicaragua and will remain in office till 2027.
  • He received the presidential sash from Gustavo Porras, head of the National Assembly.

About Nicaragua:

  • Nicaragua, officially the Republic of Nicaragua is the largest country in Central American.
  • The country is bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest.
  • The Capital of Nicaragua is Managua.
  • The currency used here is Nicaraguan córdoba.

Alikhan Smailov: Alikhan Smailov has unanimously been appointed as the new Prime Minister by the parliament of Kazakhstan.

Key highlights:

  • His name was nominated by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on January 11, 2022.
  • Prior to this, the 49-year-old Smailov served as the country’s finance minister from 2018 to 2020.
  • In 2019, he became the first Deputy Prime Minister in the Cabinet.

Kazakhstan Crisis:

  • A nationwide state of emergency had been declared in Kazakhstan by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
  • The citizens of Kazakhstan are protesting against the sudden fuel price hike.
  • The ruling government resigned due to the rising tensions.
  • After the resignation of Kazakhstan's Prime Minister, the President took over.

About Kazakhstan:

  • Kazakhstan, also spelled Kazakstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan is a country of Central Asia.
  • It is bounded on the northwest and north by Russia, on the east by China, and on the south by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea, and Turkmenistan; the Caspian Sea bounds Kazakhstan to the southwest.
  • It is the world's largest landlocked country, and the eighth-largest country in the world.
  • The capital of Kazakhstan is Nur-Sultan, formerly known as Astana.
  • The currency used here is Kazakhstani tenge (KZT).
  • The current president of Kazakhstan is Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

POWERGRID & Africa50: Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID) has recently inked a Joint Development Agreement with Africa50 to develop the Kenya Transmission Project on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis.

Key Details:

It is Africa’s first transmission PPP project.

The signing of this agreement depicts POWERGRID and Africa50’s commitment to continue to dedicate resources to increase development activities on the project until financial close.

Key Points of this project:

The project entails the development, financing, construction, and operation of the 400kV Lessos – Loosuk and 220kV Kisumu – Musaga transmission lines under a public-private partnership (PPP) framework.

Once completed, the project will be the first Independent Power Transmission (IPT) in Kenya and will set a reference point in Africa as the first financing of transmission lines on a PPP basis.

This project will also improve both the supply and reliability of power transmission in Western Kenya.

Furthermore, it will create a demonstration effect to help increase private sector investments into the expansion of Africa’s power transmission networks.

What is the role of POWERGRID and Africa50?

Role of POWERGRID: It is one of the world’s leading electric transmission utility companies. POWERGRID will provide technical and operational know-how to the project.

Role of Africa50: It will bring its project development and finance expertise and will act as a bridge between the Kenyan government and private investors.

About Africa50:

  • Africa50 is an Investment Bank for Infrastructure in Africa that contributes to Africa’s economic growth by developing and investing in bankable infrastructure projects, catalyzing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact.
  • It was established by African governments and the African Development Bank.
  • It currently has 31 shareholders, comprised of 28 African countries, the African Development Bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), and Bank Al-Maghrib.

About POWERGRID:

  • Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID)is an Indian central public sector unit and a Maharatna company.
  • The company is owned by the Ministry of Power.
  • It is headquartered in Gurugram, India.
  • The company is engaged mainly in the Transmission of Power.
  • The company transmits around 50% of the total power generated across India through its transmission network.
  • The former subsidiary company of the POWERGRID called “Power System Operation Corporation Limited (POSOCO)” is engaged in the power management for the National Grid and all state transmission utilities.
  • The company also operates a telecom business called POWERTEL.
  • The current chairman and managing director of the company is Shri Kandikuppa Sreekant.

India-US Bilateral Trade: As a part of an India-US bilateral trade deal, India has agreed to allow the import of pork and pork products from the US.

Key Highlights:

  • It will facilitate the export of Indian mangoes and pomegranates to the US.
  • This decision was taken months after governments from both countries renewed the India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF).
  • With the renewal of India's US Trade Policy Forum (TPF), both the countries agreed to iron out issues including market access pertaining to the agriculture sector.

Export of Pork:

  • In 2020, the US was the world’s third-largest pork producer and second-largest exporter, with global sales of such products valued at $7.7 billion.
  • In the fiscal year 2021, the US exported more than $1.6 billion of agricultural products to India.

Export of Mangoes:

  • India will start the export of mangoes, starting with the Alphonso variant to the US in the new season that begins in March 2020.
  • The export of Indian mangoes has been restricted by the USA since 2020 as USDA (US Department of Agriculture) inspectors were unable to visit India for inspection of irradiation facilities due to restrictions imposed on international travel because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Under a recently signed framework agreement, India and the US will follow joint protocol on irradiation for India’s mango exports and pomegranate exports to the US and import of cherries and Alfalfa hay from the US.

Previous exports:

  • India had exported 800 MT of mangoes to the US in FY18. In terms of value, mangoes worth $2.75 million were exported.
  • Similarly, in FY19, 951 MT mangoes worth $3.63 million were exported and 1,095 MT, worth $4.35 million of mangoes were sent in FY20.
  • As per the Commerce Department, as per estimates received from the exporters, the export of mangoes in 2022 may surpass the figures of 2019-20.

Note: India was sixth-largest supplier of services imports for the USA, because of India’s large market, economic growth, and progress towards development.

What are the Issues in bilateral trade?

  • Both India and The US highlight the issue of tariff and non-tariff barriers besides, multiple regulations and practices that disadvantage foreign companies.
  • Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Programme– Under this programme, the USA decided to withdraw duty-free benefits for Indian exporters.
  • For India, USA’s temporary visa policies are another issue. This policy affects Indian nationals working in the USA.
  • They also have a different opinion on how to balance IP protection, in order to incentivize innovation and support other policy goals.

World Day of War Orphans 2022: World Day of War Orphans is observed on 6 January across the globe to create awareness about the plight of the war orphans and to address the traumatic conditions faced by them.

Key Points:

  • The main purpose of observing the day is to spread awareness globally about the need to protect the human rights of children orphaned by wars and to generate efforts to secure a better tomorrow for them.
  • This day is especially significant since it tries to raise consciousness and awareness about the physical and mental condition of a war orphan.
  • Globally, millions of children are orphaned due to war, and they are subjected to a life of hardship and emotional and physical neglect.

History:

  • World Day for War Orphans was created by SOS Enfants en Detresse, a French organization that works to bring a sense of normalcy to the lives of children affected indirectly by wars and conflict.

Significance:

  • According to UNICEF, In the wars that took place during the last few centuries, roughly half of the victims were civilians — a number that gradually increased until 2001.
  • As of 2015, “there were nearly 140 million orphans globally, including 61 million in Asia, 52 million in Africa, 10 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 7.3 million in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
  • Because of war or violence, young people and especially the children are the silent victims are among the most disadvantaged groups, who experience famine, displacement, inadequate health care and education as well as irregular childhood.
  • Parentless children are frequently exposed to abuse, discrimination and even crime.
  • World Day of War orphans is every year observed to highlight the plight of the orphans and also to remind us that every child must be cared for.

The day has more relevance mainly at the time of pandemics as it has the greatest impact on children who are orphaned.

Who is considered an Orphan?

  • As per UNICEF, a child under 18 years of age who has lost one or both parents to any cause of death is considered an orphan.

 

Japan-Australia Defence Treaty: Japan and Australia hailed a new agreement to cooperate closely on defence as a breakthrough and a landmark, in the latest step to bolster security ties against the backdrop of rising Chinese military and economic might.

Key Highlights:

  • The historic agreement was signed by the Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 6th January 2022.
  • Ahead of this online summit with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, Morrison called the agreement "a statement of two nations' commitment to work together in meeting the shared strategic security challenges we face and to contribute to a secure and stable Indo-Pacific.
  • The summit comes as tension over Chinese-claimed Taiwan has been rising as President Xi Jinping seeks to assert China's sovereignty claims over the democratically ruled island.
  • The virtual summit to seal a pact had been in the works for several years.
  • Australia has been working with Japan, the US (United States), India and Britain to strengthen defence ties amid concerns about China, including its pressure on Taiwan, freedom of navigation in the region and trade disputes.
  • The Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) is Japan's first with any country.
  • RAA will allow the Australian and Japanese militaries to work seamlessly with each other on defence and humanitarian operations.

About the Agreement:

  • Morrison and Kishida agreed that the two sides would work to update a 2007 Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation as soon as possible to set a clear direction for their ties.
  • According to a joint statement issued after the summit, they both underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encouraged the peaceful resolution of issues.
  • It is for the first time that this landmark treaty will provide a clear framework for enhanced interoperability and cooperation between our two forces.
  • The agreement includes sharing military facilities between the countries, landing rights, securing port access, logistic support, legal regimes, logistic support.
  • This means the advanced F-35s (fighter jet) of Japan can now practice on Australian soil while the Australian submarines can now operate in Japanese waters.
  • Both Japan and Australia share a common interest in keeping the US engaged in the Indo – Pacific.
  • The agreement is to expand Quad agenda.

Note: Japan has a status of forces agreement with the United States, which allows the United States to base warships, fighter jets and thousands of troops in and around Japan as part of an alliance that Washington describes as the bedrock of regional security.

Alliance against the China Domination:

QUAD:

  • Japan and Australia, along with the United States and India, are part of the "Quad" grouping that has worked to build an alliance in the face of China's swelling presence across Asia, including its threats to vital international sea lanes.
  • The trilateral Malabar military exercise held between India, US and Japan till 2020, has now become a QUAD exercise with Australia participating in the exercise in 2021.

AUKUS:

  • In September, Australia, the United States, and Britain announced they had formed a new alliance -- AUKUS -- under which Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines using US technology.

 

Kazakhstan Unrest: Recently a nationwide state of emergency has been declared in Kazakhstan by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Key highlights:

  • The state of emergency has been declared in the Central Asian nation's biggest city Almaty and in the western Mangistau province.
  • The citizens of Kazakhstan are protesting against the sudden fuel price hike.
  • The ruling government resigned due to the rising tensions.
  • After the resignation of Kazakhstan's Prime Minister, the President took over.
  • He has created a security council to control the protest. Kazakhstan has sought help from its military allies, especially Russia.
  • It has also sought the help of CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization).

Note: CSTO comprises of Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Why was the emergency declared?

  • The emergency was declared due to the protests by Kazakh citizens.
  • The protestors have taken over the Almaty airport and the aircrafts.
  • The local administrations and government officials were attacked in three cities. Internet services are disrupted.
  • Protests triggered by a fuel price rise killed eight police and National Guard troops.
  • Some of the security forces have also sided with the protestors.

Why did the citizens protest?

  • The protests began when the ruling government of Kazakhstan lifted the price controls of Liquified Petroleum Gas because of which the prices quickly doubled.
  • Earlier, the citizens had converted their vehicles to run on the LPG because of its low cost but when there was a sudden hike after the price control, this angered them.

Root cause of the Protests:

  • Kazakhstan is a tightly controlled country that cultivates an image of political stability which helps in attracting hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign investment in its oil and metals industries over three decades of independence.
  • However, its autocratic form of governance has raised international concerns.
  • The political rifts between the ruling and opposition create unrest because of which the authorities often crack down due to the internal protests.
  • Oil is used as a weapon to capture power.

About Kazakhstan:

  • Kazakhstan, also spelled Kazakstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan is a country of Central Asia.
  • It is bounded on the northwest and north by Russia, on the east by China, and on the south by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea, and Turkmenistan; the Caspian Sea bounds Kazakhstan to the southwest.
  • It is the world's largest landlocked country, and the eighth-largest country in the world.
  • The capital of Kazakhstan is Nur-Sultan, formerly known as Astana.
  • The currency used here is Kazakhstani tenge (KZT).
  • The current president of Kazakhstan is Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

 

India-Nepal MoU: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, recently approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Nepal for the construction of a bridge over Mahakali River at Dharchula (India)- Dharchula (Nepal).

Key Points:

  • As close neighbours, India and Nepal share unique ties of friendship and cooperation characterized by an open border and deep-rooted people-to-people contacts of kinship and culture.
  • With the signing of the MoU, diplomatic relations between the two countries will further improve.
  • Both India and Nepal have been working together on different regional forums i.e. SAARC, BIMSTEC as well as global fora.

Additional News:

The Cabinet has also approved the signing of the Agreement between the following countries:

India and Spain on "Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters".

  • The Agreement will help in making available, reliable, quick and cost-effective information and intelligence for the prevention and investigation of Customs offenses and apprehending of Customs offenders.

India and Turkmenistan on ‘Cooperation in the Field of Disaster Management.

  • The MoU seeks to put in place a system, whereby both India and Turkmenistan will be benefited from the disaster management mechanisms of each other and it will help in strengthening the areas of preparedness, response and capacity building in the field of disaster management.

 

Resignation by Sudanese PM: Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned, 6 weeks after returning to his post following a military coup in October.

Key Points:

  • The move deepens uncertainty around the political future of Sudan and a transition towards elections since the 2019 downfall of long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir.
  • Hamdok had served as PM for more than two years.
  • He served as the PM under a power-sharing arrangement between civilians and the army, until the military toppled him in October, accusing politicians of hostility to the army.
  • Under an agreement to partly reverse that coup, he returned to lead a government of technocrats, intended to serve until elections in 2023.
  • But, the deal of his return was opposed by key political parties and by the protest movement that had brought down Bashir.

Sudan Political Crisis:

  • Sudan has been undergoing a fragile journey towards civilian rule since the 2019 ouster of the autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
  • But the political turmoil escalated further when the military general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan launched the military coup leading to the detention of Abdalla Hamdok.
  • However, Hamdok was reinstated on November 21 under a promise of the elections for July 2023 but according to the local media, the Prime Minister had been absent from his office for days with rumors strengthening over his possible resignation.

About Sudan:

  • Sudan, officially the Republic of Sudan, is a country in Northeast Africa.
  • It borders the countries of the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, South Sudan, and the Red Sea.
  • It is Africa's third-largest country by area, and the third-largest by area in the Arab League.
  • The capital of Sudan is Khartoum.
  • The currency used here is the Sudanese pound.

 

Trincomalee Oil Tank Deal: Sri Lanka recently signed a historic deal with India to develop a Trincomalee Oil farm.

Key Highlights:

  • The deal was signed on 6th January 2022 signed with the local unit of Indian Oil Corp - Lanka IOC to lease 75 oil tanks.
  • The signing of the deal comes ahead of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Colombo this weekend, with China also vying for clout in Sri Lanka.
  • Also, the agreement comes at a time when Sri Lanka is facing an economic crisis and souring of relations with China over a fertilizer deal gone bad.

Key Points about the deal:

  • Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) will have 24 oil tanks for business activities of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).
  • 14 of the tanks, currently used by the LIOC, will be leased to the LIOC for 50 years.
  • The balance of 61 tanks will be managed by the Trinco Petroleum Terminal Ltd.,(TPTL) a joint venture of the CPC and LIOC to be launched soon.
  • 51% of the project will be owned by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation while 49% by LIOC.
  • The TPTL will be a subsidiary of the CPC.

Significance of Trincomalee to India:

Trincomalee is significant because of the following reasons:

  • It is a pre-WWII era oil storage facility.
  • It has a capacity of around 1 million tonnes.
  • The oil farm has a strategic location in the Indian Ocean and is located inland from China Bay.
  • The facility was meant to be serviced by the natural harbour at Trincomalee.
  • The oil firm is easily accessible to India as it is the nearest port to Chennai.
  • It is a significant counterbalance to southern Hambantota Port, which is backed by China.

Why is the deal historic?

  • This deal is historic because it is a 35-year-old agreement.
  • The agreement was made during the exchange of letters between the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J R Jayawardene.
  • The agreement was part of the annexure to the India-Sri Lanka Accord of July 29, 1987.
  • Under the agreement, Indian and Sri Lankan companies had to develop the tank farm jointly.
  • The agreement remained dormant for nearly 15 years at first, prevented by the civil war.

About Indo-Lanka Accord:

  • This accord is popularly called the Rajiv-Jayewardene Accord.
  • It was signed in 1987 in the light of the Civil War in Sri Lanka.
  • The accord seeks to balance India’s strategic interests, Tamil minority rights in Sri Lanka as well as the interest of people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka.

About Sri Lanka:

  • Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia.
  • It is located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea.
  • The capitals of Srilanka are Colombo and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
  • Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital while Colombo is the largest city and center of commerce.
  • The currency used here is the Sri Lankan rupee.
  • The current President and Prime Minister of Srilanka are Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current International Events - December 2021

NITI Aayog signs SoI with UN-WFP: NITI Aayog has recently signed a Statement of Intent (SoI) with United Nations World Food Program(WFP) to encourage and promote millet production.

The Declaration of Intent was signed on December 20, 2021.

The partnership between NITI Aayog and UN WEP focuses on mainstreaming of millets and supporting India in taking lead globally in knowledge exchange using the opportunity of 2023 as an International Year of Millets.

The Year of the Millets:

  • The government of India (GoI) observed 2018 as a year of millets.
  • Following the initiative, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted the resolution A/RES/75/263, sponsored by India and supported by more than seventy countries and proclaimed the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets.

Significance:

  • The main focus of Sol is on strategic and technical collaboration between NITI Aayog and WFP.
  • This partnership aims to build resilient livelihoods for small farmers and adaptation capacities towards climate change as well as transforming food systems.
  • It will also strengthen the climate-resilient agriculture for enhanced food and nutrition security in India.

Activities under the Partnership:

The parties will be working on the following activities:-

  • Joint development of a compendium of good practices around millets mainstreaming in priority states and development of a scaling up strategy.
  • Providing technical support for scaling up of millets mainstreaming through intense engagement in select states with support from state governments, IIMR & other associated institutions.
  • Parties will jointly organize a national consultation for line ministries of the Government of India, concerned departments of State governments, select academic institutions and organizations working in the field of millets mainstreaming.
  • They will support leveraging of India’s expertise to benefit other developing countries for millets mainstreaming by creation of knowledge management platforms and facilitation of knowledge exchange.
  • The outcome of this partnership will be achieved in the following 4 phases:
  • Phase I: Development of a best practice compendium around millet mainstreaming and a scale-up strategy.
  • Phase II: Support scale-up of millet mainstreaming through knowledge sharing and intense engagement with select states.
  • Phase III: Leverage India’s expertise to support developing countries for millet mainstreaming.
  • Phase IV: Working on building capacities for climate-resilient and adaptive livelihood practices.

About NITI Aayog:

  • It refers to the National Istitution For Transforming India Aayog.
  • NITI Aayog is the premier policy 'Think Tank' of the Government of India (GoI).
  • It was established on 1 January 2015 with an objective to foster cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation.
  • The Governing Council of NITI, with The Prime Minister as its Chairman, comprises Chief Ministers of all States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories (UTs).

About UN-WFP:

  • The United Nations World Food Program (UN-WFP) is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations.
  • It is the world's largest humanitarian organization.
  • It is the largest one that focuses on hunger and food security, and it is also the largest provider of school meals.
  • It was founded in 1961.
  • It is headquartered in Rome, Itally.
  • It has offices in 80 countries.
  • The current United Nations WFP Executive Director is David Beasley.

India-Poland Treaty: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) in criminal matters between the Government of the Republic of India and the Republic of Poland.

Aim:

  • The Treaty aims to enhance effectiveness of both the countries in investigation and prosecution of crime, through cooperation and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

Key Points of the treaty:

  • This treaty intends to enhance capability and effectiveness of India and Poland in investigation and prosecution of crimes through mutual legal assistance.
  • Under the terms of the treaty, crimes related to terrorism will also be investigated and prosecuted.
  • In the context of transnational crime and its linkages to terrorism, the proposed Treaty will provide a broad legal framework for bilateral cooperation with Poland in investigation and prosecution of crime.
  • Treaty will also provide a broad legal framework for bilateral cooperation with Poland in tracing, restraining, and confiscation of proceeds and instruments of crime.
  • The treaty will increase effectiveness of India in tackling criminal activities involving Poland.

What is Mutual Legal Assistance treaty and how does it work?

  • A Mutual Legal Assistance treaty (MLAT) is an agreement between two or more countries for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information in an effort to enforce public or criminal laws.
  • MLA is generally used for obtaining material that cannot be obtained on a police cooperation basis, particularly enquiries that require coercive means.
  • This helps in ensuring that the criminals do not escape or sabotage the due process of law for want of evidence available in different countries. 

India-Poland Relations:

  • India and Poland share a long-standing friendly relationship.
  • They established diplomatic relations in 1954.
  • Indian Embassy opened in Warsaw in 1957.
  • The two countries shared common ideological perceptions, based on their opposition to colonialism, imperialism and racism.
  • During the Communist era (1945–1989), bilateral relations between the two countries were close and cordial.
  • The close relationship with India continued even after Poland chose the democratic path in 1989.
  • A cordial political relationship has emerged in the 21st century, particularly after Poland joined the EU in 2004, and became one of India’s key economic partners in Central Europe.

Economic & commercial Relations

  • Poland is India’s largest trade partner and export destination in the Central European region

India’s export to Poland contributed to 0.48% of overall India’s export while

  • 0.15% of India’s import was covered by Poland in 2019.
  • Indian investments in Poland are valued at over US$3 billion while the total Polish investment in India is estimated at US$ 672 million.

Cultural Relations:

  • The Ideology Department of the Oriental Institute at the University of Warsaw is the largest center for Indian studies in Central Europe.
  • A Hindi Chair is in place at the University of Warsaw.
  • Study of Indian languages, literature, culture and Ideology is pursued at the Polish Universities.
  • In 2019, Polish Mission issued a Commemorative Stamp on the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhiji.

About Poland:

  • Poland officially the Republic of Poland is a country located in Central Europe.
  • It is bordered by Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine to the east and Russia and the Baltic Sea to the north.
  • Poland's national emblem is a white eagle with a golden crown on a red background.
  • The national flag is white and red.
  • The Currency used in Poland is Polish zloty.
  • Its capital is Warsaw.

Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm: Sri Lanka will soon ink a deal with India to jointly develop the Trincomalee oil tank farm.

Key Points:

  • India and Sri Lanka have been negotiating this project for 16 months.
  • Sri Lanka’s Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila has instructed the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to form a subsidiary company for this purpose. The subsidiary company will be called Trinco Petroleum Terminal Ltd.
  • This move follows President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s approval for setting up a special purpose vehicle.
  • Trincomalee oil tank farm was built by the British during the Second World War to serve as a refuelling station. This oil storage facility was built adjacent to the Trincomalee port, one of the deepest natural harbours in the world. However, oil tanks need to be refurbished to be fit for use again, at the cost of millions of dollars.
  • The proposal to refurbish the oil farm was envisaged 35 years ago, in the Indo-Lanka accord of 1987. This accord states that, “work of restoring and operating the Trincomalee oil tank farm will be undertaken by India and Sri Lanka, as a joint venture”. Despite this Accord, work barely moved until 2003. In 2003, Indian Oil Corporation set up its Sri Lankan subsidiary called Lanka IOC which has the leasing rights to 99 tanks at the facility.

About Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm:

  • The Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm is located in ‘China Bay’.
  • It comprises of 99 storage tanks, with a capacity of 12,000 kilolitres each, spread across Lower Tank farm and Upper Tank Farm. Currently, Lanka IOC runs 15 tanks.
  • The new agreement is being negotiated for the remaining tanks.
  • Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) will work with the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) for developing the Upper Tank Farm.

About Sri Lanka:

  • Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia.
  • It is located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea.
  • The capitals of Srilanka Colombo and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
  • Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital while Colombo is the largest city and center of commerce.
  • The currency used here is Sri Lankan rupee.
  • The current President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka are Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa respectively.

Counter-Terrorism Committee of UNSC: India is all set to chair the Counter-Terrorism Committee of UNSC in January 2022 after 10 years.

Key Points:

  • The Counter-Terrorism Committee was established by Security Council resolution 1373 adopted unanimously on 28 September 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.
  • The Committee was tasked with monitoring implementation of resolution 1373 which requested countries to implement a number of measures aimed at enhancing their legal and institutional ability to counter terrorist activities at home and around the world.
  • Besides, the Committee monitors steps taken to cooperate with other governments in the investigation, detection, arrest, extradition and prosecution of those involved in terror acts and criminalizes active and passive assistance for terrorism.

Members of United Nations Security Council:

  • Five nations are permanently represented on the Security Council: the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China.
  • They have veto power.
  • 10 non-permanent member countries are elected for two-year terms by members of the UN General Assembly, the body that represents all UN members.
  • India has joined the UNSC for the 2021-22 term as a non-permanent member.
  • India’s current term began on January 1 of this year and will serve until 31 December 2022.

1st Female PM of Sweden: The former Finance Minister of Sweden from the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Eva Magdalena Andersson became the first female Prime Minister (PM) of Sweden after wining her second election.

On 24 November 2021, she was first elected as the PM.

However, she later resigned after her coalition partner (Green Party) quit the government and the budget failed to pass.

Sweden is the last Nordic country to get a female Prime Minister.

Note: Swedan’s Parliament is known as Riksdag.

About the Magdalena Andersson:

  • Magdalena Andersson was born on January, 23 1967.
  • In 1996, she began her political career as a political adviser to then PM Goran Persson and then as Director of Planning.
  • In 2004 she began to work in the Ministry of Finance as State Secretary.
  • On November 4, 2021She became the head of the SDP.
  • She is the second woman leader of the SDP.

About Sweden:

  • Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It is a Scandinavian nation with thousands of coastal islands and inland lakes, along with vast boreal forests and glaciated mountains.
  • It borders Norway to the west and north, Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund Strait.
  • The capital city is Stockholm.
  • The currency used here is Swedish krona.

FunFact:

  • The name Sweden was derived from the Svear, or Suiones, a people mentioned as early as 98 CE by the Roman author Tacitus.
  • The country’s ancient name was Svithiod. Stockholm has been the permanent capital since 1523.

World’s longest Metro Line: The World’s longest Metro Line was opened in China’s Shanghai Province on December 31, 2021.

Key Facts:

  • The newly opened Line 14 with an operating length of 38 km is the first fully automatic metro line for eight-carriage trains in Shanghai
  • The total length of Shanghai’s metro network has now reached 831 kilometers and it remains as the world’s longest network.
  • Now Shanghai, with the addition of two new lines, has a total of five fully automatic metro lines with a total operating length of 167 kilometers.
  • There are now 508 stations and 20 metro liness.
  • Out of 508 stations, 83 are transfer ones.

About Shanghai:

  • The city of Shanghai is China’s most populous urban area as well as the world’s most populous city and it is one of China’s four municipalities with direct administration.
  • It is located on the banks of the Yangtze River’s southern estuary.
  • The city is a global center for finance, research, business & economics, manufacturing, education, science & technology, tourism, culture & transportation. Port of Shanghai is the busiest container port of the world.
  • It is the only city in East Asia, having its GDP greater than its corresponding capital.

Note: The headquarters of NDB (New Development Bank) is in Shanghai.

Additional Info:

After Shanghai, Beijing and New Delhi take the second and third spot on the list of cities with the largest metro networks.

G20’s Troika: India has recently joined the G20 ‘Troika’ to ensure consistency and continuity of G20’s agenda.

Key points:

  • The troika now consists of Indonesia, Italy and India.
  • With this move, India has started the procedure for taking over the G20 presidency in 2022.
  • India will assume the G20 presidency on December 1, 2022 from Indonesia, and will convene the G20 Leaders’ Summit for the first time in India in 2023.
  • Italy hosted the G20 summit during October 30-31 that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi where India had raised the issue of Afghanistan’s future following the takeover by the Taliban.
  • Indonesia took over the G20 presidency on December 2, 2021.
  • It will convene various G20 meetings throughout the year culminating with the G20 Leaders` Summit on October 30-31, 2022 under the overall theme of "Recover Together Recover Stronger".

About G20 Troika:

  • Troika means a group of three people working together.
  • It refers to the top grouping within the G20 that consists of the current, previous and the incoming presidencies — Indonesia, Italy and India.

About G20:

  • The G20 means the Group of Twenty.
  • It is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union (EU).
  • The membership of the G20 consists of 19 individual countries plus the European Union. The members of the G20 group are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU).
  • The EU is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.
  • It was established on 26 September 1999 with an aim to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability. 
  • The main objective of G20 is to unite world leaders around shared economic, political and health challenges.
  • The current Chairman of G20 Mario Draghi (2021).

India & Sri Lanka: India and Sri Lanka have recently agreed to a four-pronged approach to discuss initiatives on food and energy security to help mitigate Sri Lanka’s economic crisis.

Key Points:

The four-pronged approach was agreed during a two-day visit by Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa to New Delhi.

Note: Earlier this year, Sri Lanka declared an economic emergency amid rising food prices, a depreciating currency, and rapidly depleting forex reserves.

About Four-Pillar Initiative Comprises:

  • The decisions included the following:
  1. A four-pillar initiative, comprising lines of credit for medicines, food and fuel purchases granted by India,
  2. A currency swap agreement to deal with Sri lanka’s balance of payment issues,
  3. An “early” modernisation project of the Trinco oil farms that India has been pursuing for several years, and
  4. A Sri Lankan commitment to facilitate Indian investments in various sectors.
  • It was agreed that modalities to realize these objectives would be finalized early, within a mutually agreed timeline.
  • Rajapaksa and Indian Finance Minister N. Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Jaishankar “agreed to open direct lines of communication” and to be in direct and regular contact with each other to coordinate on this initiative.
  • Jaishankar will meet Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Abu Dhabi where they will inaugurate the Indian Ocean Region Conference organised by the India Foundation.
  • India-Sri Lanka Relations:
  • The history of relationship between India and Sri Lanka is more than 2,500 years old
  • Both countries have built a legacy of intellectual, ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic ties.

Recent differences between India and Sri Lanka:

  • India and Sri Lanka have had a number of differences on economic issues in the past two years, especially over the perception that the Rajapaksa Government has favoured Chinese companies on projects that it expedites.
  • This year (2021) President Gotabaya cancelled an MoU signed with India and Japan for the East Coast Terminal project.
  • India protested the cancellation though it later agreed to the West Coast Terminal being developed by the Adani group.

Significance of Sri Lanka for India:

  • First and foremost, Sri Lanka is the closest maritime neighbour of India and is strategically located in Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.
  • 70 percent of Indian cargo comes through the Colombo port, which is a largest trans-shipment port of South-Asia.
  • As per its ‘Neighbourhood-First Policy’ and the ‘SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) Doctrine’, India attaches great importance to Sri Lanka “to keep the Indian Ocean region peaceful and secure”.

PANEX-21: a Curtain Raiser Event for PANEX-21 for the member nations of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries was held recently.

Key Points:

  • PANEX-21 is HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) Exercise.
  • It a multi-national - multi-agency exercise is being organised at Pune from 20-22 Dec 2021 with a focused aim to foster common and develop capabilities in Disaster Management aspects for the BIMSTEC nations.
  • The event is being attended by the subject matter experts and delegates from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
  • They will brain storm various aspects related to conduct of effective humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations during a natural disaster in the background of a pandemic.
  • The success of the last two BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercises (DMEx-2017 at Delhi and DMEx-2020 at Puri) speak of the close coordination mechanism that the BIMSTEC nations share.

About BIMSTEC:

  • BIMSTEC is acronym for “Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation”.
  • It is a regional multilateral organization established on June 6, 1997 in Bangkok under the name BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation).  
  • Myanmar was included to it in 1997 following which group was renamed as ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
  • After Nepal & Bhutan become full members in 2004, BIMSTEC was renamed to its current form.

Members of BIMSTEC:

  • Seven members of BIMSTEC are littoral and adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal constituting a regional unity.
  • 5 are South Asian countries namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal & Sri Lanka while 2 countries- Myanmar & Thailand- are from Southeast Asia.

Aim of BIMSTEC:

  • BIMSTEC connects South and Southeast Asia besides ecologies of Great Himalayas and Bay of Bengal.
  • It was established with the aims of creating an enabling environment for rapid economic development and accelerating social progress.

SAARC Charter Day 2021: The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Charter Day is observed on 8th December every year to commemorate the adoption of the SAARC Charter.

Key Highlights:

  • The year 2021 marks the 37th anniversary of the regional group.
  • The charter was signed by the Leaders of SAARC Countries Heads of State or Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the First SAARC Summit held in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

About SAARC Charter:

  • On 8 December 1985, the SAARC Charter was adopted, in Dhaka, during the first summit of the group.
  • The Charter was signed by the leaders of eight South Asian nations- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
  • As mentioned in its charter, the primary goal of SAARC is to work collectively to promote the welfare of people in the region and to improve their standard of living through social progress and economic development.
  • The aim of SAARC members is to promote stability, peace and progress in the region.
  • SAARC Secretariat is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal.

SAARC Summits:

  • These are usually held biennially and hosted by member states in alphabetical order.
  • SAARC has organized 18 summits since 1985.
  • The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu (Nepal), which was attended by India.
  • The 19th Summit was scheduled to be held in Islamabad on November 15-16, 2016, but it was cancelled due to "political reasons".

UNICEF Day 2021: Every year, UNICEF Day is observed on December 11 anually.

Key Points:

  • It is observed to raise awareness about saving children’s lives by defending and helping them to fulfil their wishes.
  • The day provides assistance for the health, nutrition, education, and welfare of children during World War II.
  • UNICEF’s name was subsequently changed from United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund to United Nations Children’s Fund though, it continued to be known by the popular acronym based on the previous title.

Theme 2021:

  • The theme for 2021 is to help children recover from interruptions and learning losses experienced through pandemics in the last two years.

Significance:

  • The day plays a significant role in raising awareness of the sustainable development of children.
  • The main aim is to eliminate hunger, violation of children’s rights, and discrimination against race, region, or religion.
  • UNICEF’s biggest objective is to protect children all across the world and provide access to basic rights like food, sanitation, good education, vaccination, etc.

History:

  • The day was established after World War II to assist people who needed help and whose lives were at risk.
  • Later in 1953, UNICEF became a permanent agency of the United Nations.
  • In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) announced this day for United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

 

Current International Events - November 2021

Yahoo pulls out of China: US technology company Yahoo has stopped its services in China from November 1, 2021.

Key Points:

This decision by Yahoo is in line with its commitment for rights of users and a free & open internet.
 Yahoo’s departure from China coincides with the implementation of Personal Information Protection law in the country.

Censorship in China
It is a truism that Chinese authorities maintain a sharp grip on internet censorship. The Chinese law requires companies operating in China to censor content and keywords that are deemed politically sensitive or inappropriate, including references to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Yahoo’s withdrawal comes on the heels of China’s Personal Information Protection Law, which limits what information companies can gather and sets standards for how it must be stored.

 

Under Chinese laws, foreign companies operating in the country must also hand over data to authorities upon request.

Background
In 2007, Yahoo was criticized by lawmakers after it handed over data on two Chinese dissidents to Beijing, eventually leading to their imprisonment.

In 2013, Yahoo had downsized its operations in China by shut down its Chinese mail service. In the year 2015, it closed its Beijing office.

Yahoo departure from China is largely symbolic because many of the US tech company’s services & its web portal were already blocked since 2013.

Microsoft withdraws LinkedIn
Yahoo joins other US companies to curb operations in China. Last month, Microsoft pulled the plug on the Chinese version of LinkedIn.

Google’s services have not been available in China for several years.

Social networking sites, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as the Wikipedia are blocked in the country.

Epic Games has announced the end of the Chinese version of hit video game “Fortnite”.

 Resilient Island States (IRIS) Initiative: The Initiative for the Resilient Island States ( IRIS) initiative is a part of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient infrastructure that would focus on building capacity, having pilot projects, especially in small island developing states.
It is aimed at achieving sustainable development through a systematic approach to resilient, sustainable and inclusive infrastructure in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Initiative for the Resilient Island States (IRIS) on sidelines of climate summit COP26 in Glasgow.

 IRIS was launched for developing infrastructure of small island nations.

According to the Prime Minister, the launch gives a new hope, a new confidence and satisfaction of doing something for the most vulnerable countries.

It is aimed at achieving sustainable development through a systematic approach to resilient, sustainable and inclusive infrastructure in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The launch took place on the second day of the World Leaders’ Summit and Modi was joined by his British counterpart Boris Johnson, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and leaders of Mauritius, Fiji and Jamaica on the occasion. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was also present.

 

The IRIS initiative is a part of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient infrastructure( CDRI) that would focus on building capacity, having pilot projects, especially in small island developing states.

The Prime Minister added that Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will build a special data window for Small Island Developing States to provide them timely information about cyclones, coral-reef monitoring and coast-line monitoring among others through satellite.

India and France: India and France have agreed to enhancing defence and security partnership through more intelligence and information sharing, as well as bolstering capabilities, expanding bilateral exercises in the maritime sphere military drills and pursuing new initiatives in maritime, space and cyber domains.

The two countries resolved to expand the defence ties at a meeting of the annual India-France strategic dialogue in Paris that was co-chaired by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Emmanuel Bonne, the Diplomatic Advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron.

France is one of India’s premier global and Indo-Pacific partners.

Significance of India-France dialogue
The reiteration by France to deepen cooperation with India in the Indo-Pacific came nearly two months after a new security alliance (AUKUS) by Australiathe UK and the US came into being.

 

This AUKUS alliance is perceived as an effort to counter China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.

Under the terms of the alliance, nuclear-powered submarines will be built for Australia.

This did not go down well with the French government after Canberra pulled out of a separate submarine deal with Paris.

COP26 Action Agenda on Sustainable Farming: 27 countries including India signed a sustainable agriculture action agenda at the end of the first week of the COP 26 meetings in Glasgow, United Kingdom. The countries laid out new commitments to make farming more sustainable and less polluting.

The ‘Sustainable Agriculture Policy Action Agenda for the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture and Global Action Agenda for Innovation in Agriculture’ were among the highlight action pledges to be clinched by the participating countries at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Others besides India to sign up to the action plan include Australia, Uganda, Madagascar, Tanzania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Lesotho, Laos, Indonesia, Guinea, Ghana, Germany, Philippines, Ethiopia, UK, Colombia, Costa Rica, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland, and the UAE.

The countries laid out new commitments to change their agricultural policies to become more sustainable and less polluting, and to invest in the science needed for sustainable agriculture and for protecting food supplies against climate change.

 

The announcement follows Ocean Action Day on Friday of over 10 new countries signing up to the “30by30” target to protect 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030.

These include India, Bahrain, Jamaica, St Lucia, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, India, Qatar, Samoa, Tonga, Gambia and Georgia, with the target now supported by over 100 countries.

Among other developments from week one of the COP26 climate summit, the World Bank will commit to spending USD 25 billion in climate finance annually to 2025 through its Climate Action Plan, including a focus on agriculture and food systems.

USA Joins ISA: United States of America (USA) became the 101st member country to join International Solar Alliance (ISA).

Key Points
The USA has joined ISA as member country with a view to accelerating the global adoption of solar energy.

The decision of the US to join ISA was announced by John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate at the ongoing COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference at Glasgow.

Key Facts
• This announcement was made at UNFCCC COP26 on November 10, 2021.
• Now, USA will catalyse global energy transition through solar-led approach.

 

International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework
The ISA framework was first circulated in 2016 for the support of countries. It emphasises on delivering global relevance and local benefit through collaborations for all countries. Key interventions of ISA will focus on readiness and enabling activities, innovative financing instrument and risk mitigation in order to facilitate promotion and deployment of solar technologies.

International Solar Alliance (ISA)
ISA is an alliance of 124 countries. It was initiated by India. Most of the member countries are sunshine countries, lying either partly or completely between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. This alliance was launched with the objective of working for efficient consumption of solar energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. It was first proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2015. It is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization. It is the largest grouping of states across the world.

Who can join the alliance?
Countries that do not lie within the Tropics can also join ISA and enjoy all benefits as other members. However, they do not get voting rights.

Headquarter of ISA
ISA is headquartered in Gurugram, India. Its foundation stone was laid by Narendra Modi, and French President Francois Hollande in 2016.

ADIPEC Conference: ADIPEC conference is an oil and gas summit being held in Abu Dhabi, from November 15 to November 18, 2021.

Key Points
• World’s biggest oil and gas companies and several OPEC+ energy ministers are attending the ADIPEC conference.
• ADIPEC conference is one of the first major in-person events for the industry since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
• The conference is taking place in the backdrop of COP26 climate talks and increasing energy prices.
• Brent crude has increased by 60% in 2021, to above $80 a barrel.
• Natural-gas prices in Asia and Europe have also hit record highs in recent times.

During the conference, India’s petroleum minister Hardeep Singh Puri said, India made a “concerted push” with OPEC+ on oil production. However, it also advised major consumers against selling their strategic reserves.

Energy using blue ammonia
Mitsui of Japan and GS Energy of South Korea will partner with Adnoc and Fertiglobe for developing blue ammonia. Blue ammonia will be developed at Ta’ziz industrial zone in Ruwais, Abu Dhabi. It will be taken by Mitsui and GS Energy to meet increasing energy demands in Japan and South Korea.

 

Blue Hydrogen
Several major state energy firms in Persian Gulf, like Adnoc and Saudi Aramco, are holding talks with companies in Asia regarding long-term supply contracts for blue hydrogen. Blue Hydrogen fuel is made by converting natural gas and capturing carbon emissions.

What is ADIPEC?
ADIPEC is the world’s most influential meeting place. It is hosted by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). During the meeting, oil, gas and energy companies and professionals convene in-person, to engage & identify the opportunities in a bid to unlock new value in energy landscape. ADIPEC provides opportunities for visitors, sellers and buyers to meet, learn, do business as well as discover new products, solutions and technologies.

The Sydney Dialogue: The Sydney Dialogue is an initiative of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. It is a forum focused on emerging, critical and cyber technology.


In a virtual address at the Sydney Dialogue, Modi said the digital age is changing everything as it has redefined politics, economies and societies and has raised new questions on sovereignty, governance, ethics, rights and security..

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said all democratic nations must work together on cryptocurrency and ensure that it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

“It is important that all democratic nations work together on this and ensure it does not end up in wrong hands, which can spoil our youth,” PM Modi said, delivering a keynote address at The Sydney Dialogue on the theme “India’s technology evolution and revolution”.

What is Cryptocurrency?

  • Cryptocurrency is a digital asset which works as a medium of exchange wherein individual coin ownership records are stored in the form of a computerized database.
  • A strong cryptography is used to secure transaction records, to control creation of additional coins and to verify transfer of ownership of coin.
  • It does not exist in physical form and not issued by central authority. It is however considered as centralized, when it is minted or issued by a single issuer. 
  • Bitcoin is the first decentralized cryptocurrency which was released in 2009.

Metaverse Platform Decentraland: Tiny Caribbean island nation Barbados will establish what it says will be the first diplomatic embassy in the metaverse — the world’s first virtual reality embassy.

Key Highlights:

The Caribbean nation has signed a deal with metaverse platform Decentraland.

Barbados has signed an agreement on November 14 with Decentraland, one of the largest and most popular crypto-powered digital worlds, to “outline the baseline development elements for its metaverse embassy.”

Ever since the social media giant Facebook renamed its parent company “Meta,”, the concept of Metaverse has become a hot buzzword for the future of the internet. The term “metaverse” was coined by author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science-fiction novel Snow Crash.

About Barbados:

  • Barbados is an eastern Caribbean island and an independent British Commonwealth nation.
  • With a population of about 285,000, Barbados is one of the more populous and prosperous Caribbean islands.
  • Its Capital is Bridgetown.
  • The currency used here is Barbados Dollar.
  • The current Prime Minister of Barbados is Mia Mottley.

G7 Summit of Foreign and Development Ministers: The United Kingdom will host a summit of Foreign and Development Ministers from the G7 in December in the city of Liverpool.

Key Points
• Foreign Ministers of UK, the US, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and the EU will be participating in the Summit.
• The summit will be held over three days, from December 10 to 12, 2021.
• The UK is holding the G7 Presidency in 2021
• The summit will be second in-person gathering of G7 Foreign Ministers in 2021.
• Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will also attend the G7 Foreign Ministers’ meetings for the first time,
• ASEAN Foreign Ministers from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand will be attending the G7 Summit.

G7 Presidency in 2021
United Kingdom holds the G7 Presidency in 2021.

Location of the G7 meeting
The G7 Foreign Ministers meeting will be held at the Museum of Liverpool, located on famous waterfront of the city.

 

City of Liverpool
A port city, Liverpool is located in Merseyside, England. It is a metropolitan borough and the tenth largest English district by population. The metropolitan area of Liverpool is the fifth largest in UK. The city is located on the eastern part of Mersey Estuary. The city is noted for its culture, transport links & architecture and is closely associated with music and sports.

Metropolitan borough
It is type of local government district and a subdivision of a metropolitan county in England. It was established in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972. In English Law, metropolitan boroughs are defined as metropolitan districts.

AUKUS Signs Nuclear Submarine Deal: Australia has signed a submarine deal with Britain and the United State with whom Australia has recently formed a new defence alliance, AUKUS, to confront strategic tensions in the Pacific, where the US and China don’t see eye to eye.

Key Points
• Under the terms of the agreement Australian Navy will be equipped with nuclear-powered submarines.
• This deal allows the exchange of sensitive “naval nuclear propulsion information” between three countries.
• It is the first agreement on technology to be publicly signed since the formation of AUKUS.

About the deal
• The deal will help Australia to do an 18-month study into submarine procurement. Details of the procurement has not yet decided, including whether Australia will opt for a vessel based on British or U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarines.
• With access to the information delivered under the deal, Australia will be positioned to be reliable and responsible stewards of the naval nuclear-powered technology.

Defence Alliance
Australia, UK and US had announced in September 2021 the formation of a new defence alliance between them, called AUKUS.

 

It was created to confront strategic tensions in the Pacific Ocean, where China-US rivalry is on the rise.

About AUKUS alliance
This is a trilateral security partnership for Indo-Pacific between Australia, UK and US (AUKUS). Major highlight of the agreement is sharing of US nuclear submarine technology to Australia. The grouping focuses on advancing strategic interests in Indo-Pacific region, making it an alliance against assertive actions of China in South China Sea. Under this initiative, Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines with the help of UK and US.

Criticism of AUKUS
AUKUS has been criticized by Indonesia and Malaysia,

Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM): The 13th edition of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit was held on November 25 and November 26, 2021. The Summit was hosted by Cambodia via videoconference.

Key Highlights:

The 13th ASEM Summit brought together the leaders of the 30 European and 21 Asian member countries, the ASEAN and the EU.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu led the Indian Delegation for the Summit that brought together the leaders of the 30 European and 21 Asian member countries, the ASEAN and the EU.

Celebrating ASEM’s 25th anniversary, the leaders welcomed its progress and achievements since 1996 and committed to further enhancing the cooperation, partnership and connectivity between Asia and Europe.

 

The summit was chaired by Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia.

Celebrating ASEM’s 25th anniversary, the leaders welcomed its progress and achievements since 1996 the year ASEM was founded.

Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM)
ASEM is an Asian–European political dialogue forum that works to enhance relations and several forms of cooperation between its partners.

It was established on March 1, 1996 at 1st ASEM Summit (ASEM1) in Bangkok, Thailand.

It was established by the 15 Member States of the EU & European Commission and 7 Member States of the ASEAN, besides individual countries of Japan, China, and South Korea.

ASEM is an informal platform for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe.
Members of ASEM
Several EU Member States, India, Pakistan, Mongolia and the ASEAN Secretariat joined ASEM in 2008. In 2010, Australia, New Zealand and Russia joined. While, Bangladesh, Norway, and Switzerland joined in 2012. In 2014, Croatia & Kazakhstan joined ASEM. Turkey is the newest member of ASEM. The country that joined in 2021.

ASEM Summit
ASEM Summit is a biennial event, that is alternatively held between Asian and European countries. It is the most significant event in ASEM process of setting priorities for dialogue & cooperation between Asia & Europe on issues of mutual interest in the fields of economics, politics, finance, education, social and culture.

The 7th ASEM Summit held in 2008 saw the first Summit level participation from India.

9th BRICS Science and Technology Meet: Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh has recently chaired the 9th BRICS Science and Technology Meet which came to a conclusion on November 26, 2021.

Key Points
• During the meet, Dr Jitendra Singh underscored the need for BRICS countries to come together and innovate cost-effective, sustainable, affordable, accessible, and scalable scientific solutions, because they face similar and unique challenges.
• He called for working towards rightful place for BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) in the Global Innovation Index
• According to Dr Singh, this can be made possible by further strengthening cooperation in the fields of Science, Technology & Innovation (STI.
• India is also preparing the Innovation Cooperation Action Plan 2021-2024 with support from all BRICS countries

Global Innovation Index (GII)
GII is an annual ranking of countries by their capacity and success in innovation. The index is prepared by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in association with INSEAD, Cornell University, and other organisations and institutions. It is prepared on the basis of both subjective and objective data fetched from sources like International Telecommunication Union, World Bank and World Economic Forum.

It was first published in 2007 by INSEAD and World Business magazine.

India ranks 46th in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2021. From 81 in 2015, it has moved to 46 in 2021.

 

How is index computed?
GII is computed by taking the average of scores in two sub-indices namely, Innovation Input Index and Innovation Output Index. Innovation Input Index is composed of five pillars while Innovation Output Index have two pillars. Each of these pillars describe a credit of innovation. Their score is calculated by weighted average method.

Innovation Cooperation Action Plan
In July this year all BRICS countries had agreed to the STI-led BRICS Innovation Cooperation Action Plan (2021-24) proposed by India during 12th Meeting of BRICS S&T Steering Committee.

Barbados: Nearly 400 years after the country became a British colony, Barbados has become the world’s newest republic. The Caribbean island nation removed Queen Elizabeth II as the head of the state in a ceremony attended by Prince Charles, heir to the British throne.

Barbados has become the world’s newest republic. The Caribbean island nation removed officially removed Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state in a ceremony attended by Prince Charles.

Barbados remained a British colony for nearly 400 years.

Who took over as the new head of Barbados?
Dame Sandra Prunella Mason, who was selected to become the first president of Barbados in October, was sworn in as president in an overnight ceremony in the capital, Bridgetown.

 

History of Barbados as a British colony and after
Barbados gained its independence in 1966. The country announced its plan to become a republic in 2020, but it will continue to be one of the 54 Commonwealth nations.

Barbados, which was one of England’s first slave colonies, was occupied by the English settlers in 1627.

Current International Events - October 2021

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty:

 The International day for Eradication of Poverty is observed October 17 every year globally.

Key Points:

This year marks the 28th anniversary of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The day is devoted to present and promote concrete activities with regard to eradicating poverty and destitution and acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty.

The day aims to raise awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution around the world, particularly in developing countries.

Theme of 2021:

The theme for International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2021 is “Building forward together: Ending Persistent Poverty, Respecting all People and our Planet.”

History:

On December 22, 1992, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 47/196 and declared October 17 as the International Day for Eradication of Poverty.

The event was first commemorated in Paris, France, in 1987 at the Human Rights and Liberties Plaza at the Trocadéro to honor victims of poverty, hunger, violence, and fear.

This year also marks the 32nd anniversary of the Call to Action by Father Joseph Wresinski — which inspired the observance of October 17 as the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty — and the recognition by the United Nations of the day as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The commemorative stone was unveiled by Joseph Wresinski, founder of the International Movement ATD Fourth World.

World Bank Report:

The ongoing COVID19 outbreak has shaken the world and has resulted in reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty and extreme poverty.

According to the World Bank report, published by the United Nations, between 88 and 115 million people have been pushed towards poverty.

Majority of the people are from South Asian and SubSaharan countries, during the crisis.

This number is expected to have risen, ranging between 143 and 163 million in the year 2021, adding up to the 1.3 billion people already living in poverty before the global pandemic.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aims to eradicate poverty in all its forms by 2030.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to create sound policy framework based on propoor and gendersensitive development strategies to ensure that by 2030 all men and women have equal rights to economic resources, access to basic services.

 

4th ISA General Assembly: The fourth general assembly of The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is being held virtually between October 18th and October 21st, 2021.

Key Facts:

  • It is presided over by Minister for Power, New and Renewable Energy, Government of India (GoI) and the President of the ISA Assembly.
  • The Assembly will deliberate on key initiatives in the solar energy sector including the operationalization of India’s One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) initiative.
  • The Assembly will also deliberate on the USD 1 trillion Solar Investment Roadmap for 2030 and approval of a Blended Financial Risk Mitigation Facility.
  • World leaders of ISA member countries will not only discuss the strategic plan of the ISA for the next five years but also discuss about the partnership with Global Energy Alliance (GEA) to scale up technical and financial support to LDCs and SIDS.

About ISA Assembly:

  • The Assembly is the apex decisionmaking body of International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  • The assembly is represented by each member country.
  • This body makes decisions concerning the implementation of the ISA’s Framework Agreement and coordinated actions to be taken to achieve its objective.
  • The Assembly meets annually at the Ministerial level at the seat of the ISA, assesses the aggregate effect of the programmes and other activities in terms of deployment of solar energy, performance, reliability, as well as cost and scale of finance.

About ISA:

  • The ISA is an alliance of 121 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • The alliance was founded on 30 November 2015 climate change conference in Paris.
  • It is the first treatybased international government organization which is headquartered in Gurugram, India.
  • It is the nodal agency to implement the global electricity grid plan of India called “One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG)”.
  • The current DG of ISA is Ajay Mathur.

About OSOWOG:

  • OSOWOG is the acronym for One Sun One World One Grid.
  • OSOWOG is a transnational electricity grid supplying power all over the world.
  • It was first proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s during the first assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in 2018.

Vision:

  • It is an initiative by India, to interconnect global renewable energy systems with the vision ‘The Sun Never Sets’.

Objective and Aim:

  • It was proposed with an objective build global consensus about sharing solar resources among more than 140 countries of West Asia and SouthEast Asia.
  • OSOWOG aims to build and scaleup interregional energy grids to share solar energy across borders, leverage the differences between time zones, seasons, pricing, and resources of different countries. It will also aid in decarbonizing energy production which is a major source of global greenhouse gas emissions.

 

New Quad Forum: The Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his counterparts from Israel, the United States, and the UAE have agreed to launch a new quadrilateral economic cooperation forum between the countries.

Highlights:

  • Jaishankar is currently in Israel on a fiveday visit.
  • He was accompanied by his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, while other couterparts Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister, joined him virtually.

Key Points of the meeting:

  • A statement was issued by the Israeli Foreign Ministry that after the meeting the ministers have decided to establish an international forum for economic cooperation.  
  • The four Ministers discussed the possibilities for joint infrastructure projects in the fields of transportation, technology, maritime security, economics, and trade.
  • They also discussed combating climate change, energy cooperation, as well as ways to counter the COVID19 pandemic.
  • It was decided that each country will appoint seniorlevel professionals to a joint working group that will form options for cooperation in the areas identified by the ministers.
  • The aim is to hold an inperson meeting of the ministers in the coming months at Expo 2020 in Dubai
  • Billed as the "quad", the meeting seems to be a direct outcome of the Abraham accords of 2020.

Note: India, Israel and the UAE have already established trilateral cooperation—in trade and investment—since the Abraham Accords.

About Abraham Accords:

  • The Abraham Accords are a joint statement between State of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America, reached on August 13, 2020.
  • Subsequently, the term was used to refer collectively to agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (the Israel–United Arab Emirates normalization agreement) and Bahrain, respectively (the Bahrain–Israel normalization agreement).
  • It is the first ArabIsraeli peace deal in 26 years.
  • The accords led to the normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, with both sides opening direct commercial, telephonic links.

 

Ecuador Crisis: A state of emergency has been recently declared in the South American Country, Ecuador.

Key Points:

  • President of Ecuador Guillermo Lasso declared a 60day state of emergency on October 18, 2021, due to rise in violent drug crimes.
  • Ecuador is currently grappling with a surge in violent crime and deadly prison riots.
  • The Ecuador government pointed out that drug trafficking and consumption were the main drivers behind an increase in murders, home burglary, thefts of vehicles and goods, and muggings.

What measures are being taken by the Government?

  • Under the emergency measures, the armed forces and police will work together to carry out “arms checks, inspections, 24hour patrols, and drug searches, among other actions.

About Ecuador:

  • Ecuador, officially the Republic of Ecuador is a country in northwestern South America.
  • Ecuador is named after the Equator, the imaginary line around the Earth that splits the country in two. Most of the country is in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • It is not a landlocked country and is surrounded by Colombia to the north, Peru to the east & south, and Pacific Ocean to the west.
  • Galapagos Islands in Pacific is also a part of Ecuador.
  • The capital of Ecuador is Quito.
  • The currency used here is United States Dollar.

Additional Info about Ecuador:

  • Ecuador achieved independence in 1820 as part of Gran Colombia.
  • It emerged as its own sovereign state in the year 1830.
  • It is a founding member of United Nations, NonAligned Movement and Organization of American States.
  • It is the first country in world to recognize rights of nature or ecosystem rights through Constitution of Ecuador in 2008.

 

BarbadosRoad to Republic: Barbados has elected its firstever president as it prepares to become a republic by replacing Queen Elizabeth as head of state.

Key Facts:

  • In a decisive step toward shedding the Caribbean island’s colonial past Dame Sandra Mason, 72, is set to be sworn in on 30 November, which will mark the country's 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.
  • Sandra Mason was elected by a twothirds vote of a joint session of the country’s House of Assembly and Senate.

Background:

  • Barbados, a former British colony that gained independence in 1966, had long maintained ties with the British monarchy.
  • But calls for full sovereignty and homegrown leadership had risen in recent years.
  • The government announced the plan to move to a republic status in 2020.
  • The change had already been recommended by a constitutional review in 1998.

About Dame Sandra Mason:

  • She is a former jurist who has been governorgeneral of the island since 2018.
  • She was also the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals.

About Barbados:

  • Barbados is an eastern Caribbean island and an independent British Commonwealth nation.
  • With a population of about 285,000, Barbados is one of the more populous and prosperous Caribbean islands.
  • Its Capital is Bridgetown.
  • The currency used here is Barbados Dollar.
  • The current Prime Minister of Barbados is Mia Mottley.

Note:

  • Barbados will not be the first former British colony in the Caribbean to become a republic.
  • Guyana took that step in 1970, less than four years after gaining independence from Britain.
  • Trinidad and Tobago followed suit in 1976 and Dominica in 1978.

 

International Stuttering Awareness Day: International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD), or International Stammering Awareness Day, is an annual celebration held on October 22.  

Key Points:

  • ISAD is observed with an aim to raise public awareness of the millions of people who have a speech disorder of stuttering or stammering.
  • ISAD also celebrates the many notable figures who stammer who have made a mark on the world now and throughout history in the fields of science, politics, philosophy, art, cinema and music.

Theme of ISAD 2021:

The Theme of 2021 is “Speak the change you wish to see”.

History of International Stuttering Awareness Day:

  • October 22 was designated International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) in 1998, spearheaded by Michael Sugarman, Oakland, California.
  • The ISAD is a special worldwide commitment to:
  • Educate people about this complex disorder
  • Work toward the prevention of stuttering in children
  • Let people know that help is available
  • Promote research to find the causes of stuttering.

About TISA:

  • TISA (The Indian Stammering Association) is helping people who have this speech disorder by counseling them and encouraging them to focus on their potential and on life itself rather than speech alone.

What is stuttering?

  • Stuttering also called stammering is a speech disorder characterized by the repetition of sounds, syllables, or words; prolongation of sounds; and interruptions in speech known as blocks.
  • Any individual who stutters knows exactly what he or she would like to say but has trouble producing a normal flow of speech.
  • There are 3 types of stuttering which are  developmental stuttering, neurogenic stuttering, and psychogenic stuttering.
  • The exact cause of stuttering is unknown.

Some of the famous people who stutter are as follows:

Writers, authors, producers, composers, and artists:

  • Novelist Lewis Carroll who wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  • Jim Davis who is the cartoonist from rural Indiana who created Garfield.
  • Charles Darwin the British naturalist who is best known for his work The Origin of Species.
  • Legendary actress Marilyn Monroe
  • Anthony Quinn who is an Academy Award winning actor. He is also a painter and a writer.
  • Hrithik roshan who is an award winning Indian actor.
  • Elvis Presley, the singer and actor known as the king of Rock and Roll and is still regarded by many as none of the most popular icons of the 20th century.

Sports Personalities:

  • Greg Louganis who is the diving champion best known for winning backtoback Olympic titles in both the 3m and 10m diving events.
  • Basketball star Kenyon Martin has been a twotime member of basketball's Team USA and was selected to the 2004 NBA AllStar Team
  • Tiger Woods who is one of the most successful golfers of all time.

Government leaders & public officials

  • The President of United States Joe Biden.
  • Prince Albert of Monaco
  • King George VI who was an inspiration to his country during World War II when he addressed the empire in radio broadcasts.
  • Winston Churchill who served as the British prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 until 1955.

 

BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR): India as the current BRICS Chair convened the 7th Meeting of BRICS Communications Ministers on 22nd October 2021.

Highlights:

  • The meeting was chaired by the Minister of State for Communications of the Republic of India, Shri Devusinh Chauhan, through video conferencing.
  • The delegation was led by the following –
  • Mr. Fábio Salustino Mesquita De Faria, Minister of Communications of the Federative Republic of BRAZIL,
  • Ms. Bella Cherkesova, Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation,
  • Mr. Xiao Yaqing, Minister of Industry and Information Technologies of the People's Republic of CHINA, and
  • Ms. Khumbudzo Phophi Silence Ntshavheni, Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies of the Republic of SOUTH AFRICA.

Key Points:

  • The Ministers adopted the Terms of References of Digital BRICS Task Force.
  • They supported the advancement in work of the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) across several Working Groups meeting in 2021.
  • They also appreciated the discussion on the "360degree approach on New Industrial Revolution" in a seminar during Working Group on ICTs Cooperation
  • They encouraged continuous cooperation in ICTs activities in international organizations and multilateral forums such as the International Telecommunications Union and other organizations.
  • The proposal to host the Digital BRICS Forum annually to facilitate sharing of information and knowledge, practices, initiatives, etc. on agreed cooperation areas was also adopted by the Ministers.

About BRICS:

  • It is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies which are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010.
  • The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs.
  • All are also the members of G20.
  • Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.
  • BRICS headquarter is situated at Shanghai, China.
  • BRICS members are known for their influence in regional affairs.

 

Northern Ireland Protocol: The Northern Ireland Protocol which was designed to prevent checks along the border between Northern Ireland (in the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (in the EU), following Brexit has resulted into disagreements between the UK and EU as it disrupted trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Key Highlights:

  • The Protocol came into force in the beginning of 2021.
  • But since it came into force, it has prompted disagreements between the UK and EU.
  • This disagreement has disrupted trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • The UK government has been calling to rewrite the deal.

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

  • During Brexit negotiations, all sides agreed that protecting the 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal (the Good Friday agreement) was an absolute priority.
  • The protocol meant keeping the land border open and avoiding new infrastructure such as cameras and border posts.
  • This was easy to do when both Ireland and Northern Ireland were part of the EU.
  • Both sides automatically shared the same EU rules on trade.
  • Therefore, no checks were needed on goods travelling between them.
  • Under this protocol it was agreed that Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU rules on product standards in order to prevent checks across the border.
  • Goods entering Northern Ireland from Scotland, England or Wales would be inspected.
  • However, in the backdrop of Brexit, new arrangement was required because EU requires goods like milk and eggs to be checked when they arrive from non EU countries.
  • While products like chilled meats are not allowed to enter EU at all.

What changes is the UK government calling for?

  • Boris Johnson had signed an agreement in 2019.
  • As per the agreement UK promised that it would not create any inspection on goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
  • However, now the government is of the view that this protocol represented a huge compromise by the UK and accused the EU for applying it too rigidly.
  • Therefore, the proposals to make some changes in the protocol have been submitted by the Brexit Minister, Lord Frost.
  • He has proposed a new mechanism under which goods would be able to circulate freely in Northern Ireland if they comply with either EU or UK regulations.
  • The government also wants to remove the role the European Commission and the European Court of Justice have in overseeing how the protocol works.

                                                       

 

Oldest Person in Space: William Shatner (90) scripted history by becoming the oldest person to fly into space on ‘New Shepard’ space capsule of Blue Origin from Texas (US).

Key Facts:

Shatner   who embodied the promise of space travel in the classic 1960s TV series "Star Trek" and seven subsequent films was one of four passengers to journey to the edge of space aboard the white fully autonomous 60 foot tall (18.3 meters tall) New Shepard spacecraft, which took off from Blue Origin's launch site about 20 miles (32 km) outside the rural west Texas town of Van Horn.

Joining Shatner in the all civilian crew were former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries and Blue Origin vice president and engineer Audrey Powers.

The four astronauts experienced about three to four minutes of weightlessness and traveled above the internationally recognized boundary of space known as the Karman Line, about 62 miles (100 km) above Earth.

The crew capsule returned to the Texas desert under parachutes, raising a cloud of dust.

This was the second space tourism flight for Blue Origin, billionaire U.S. businessman Jeff Bezos's company founded two decades ago.

Space Tourism:

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson led the way by riding into space in his own rocket ship in July.

This was soon followed by Jeff Bezos nine days later on Blue Origin’s first flight with a crew.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX made its first private voyage in mid September.

Recently, the Russians launched an actor and a film director to the International Space Station for movie making project.

They have overtaken USA by becoming the first nation to shoot a movie in space.

                                                                                                    

UN Human Rights Council: India has recently been re elected to the UN Human Rights Council (2022 24) with an overwhelming majority.

Key Highlights:

  • This decision was taken in the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.
  • India has been re elected for a record 6th term.
  • India's current term was set to end on December 31 2021.
  • There were five vacant seats in Asia Pacific States category namely Kazakhstan, Malaysia, India, Qatar and United Arab Emirates, for election for the term of 2022 2024.
  • The 193 member UN General Assembly elected by secret ballot Argentina, Benin, Cameroon, Eritrea, Finland, Gambia, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Montenegro, Paraguay, Qatar, Somalia, UAE and the US.
  • The United States, which had quit the council in 2018 under the previous Donald Trump's regime, was re elected to the global rights body for a period of three and a half years.
  • India vowed to continue to work for the promotion and protection of Human Rights through "Samman, Samvad and Sahyog."

About UNHRC:

  • It refers to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
  • UNHRC is an inter governmental body within the United Nations system.
  • It is located at the UN Office at Geneva.
  • It was founded on 15 March 2006 by the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251.

Members:

  • It consists of 47 Member States elected directly and individually by secret ballot by the majority of the members of the General Assembly.
  • The Council's Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution.
  • The seats are distributed among regional groups Group of African States (13), Group of Asia Pacific States (13), Group of Eastern European States (6), Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (8) and Group of Western European and other States (7).
  • The members of the Council shall serve for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for immediate re election after two consecutive terms.

Task:

  • Its main task is to investigate allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states.
  • It also addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of expression, women's rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

                                                                                              

G20 Extraordinary Summit on Afghanistan: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently participated virtually in the G20 Extraordinary Summit on Afghanistan.

Key Highlights:

  • The Meeting was convened by Italy, which currently holds the G20 Presidency.
  • It was chaired by Italian Prime Minister Mr. Mario Draghi.
  • Issues under consideration at the meeting related to the following:  
  • Humanitarian situation
  • Concerns relating to terrorism
  • Human rights in Afghanistan

Key Points of the meet:

  • Prime Minister Modi conveyed support for the important role of the United Nations in Afghanistan.
  • He called for renewed support of the G20 for the message contained in UN Security Council Resolution 2593 on Afghanistan.
  • He also called on the international community to forge a unified international response without which it would be difficult to bring about the desired change in Afghanistan’s situation.
  • The meeting comes less than three weeks before the formal G20 leaders summit in Rome on Oct. 30 31, which is due to focus on climate change, the global economic recovery, tackling malnutrition and the COVID 19 pandemic.

About G20

  • The G20 comprises twenty of the world’s major economies.
  • It is a key venue for building international agreement and facilitating a coordinated strategy between multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations and its agencies, and global and regional actors to address the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
  • The G20 member countries include  Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

                                        

Nobel Prize 2021 Winners List: Nobel Prize is one of the most distinguished awards in the world.

Key Facts:

  • It is accorded in six different categories, viz. Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Economic Sciences, Physiology or Medicine and Peace Prize.
  • The winners are known as laureates and take home a gold medal, diploma and prize money of 10 million Swedish Kronor.
  • The prizes were created as per the will of Sir Alfred Nobel.
  • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the prizes for Chemistry, Physics and Economic Sciences.
  • The Karolinska Institute confers the prize for physiology or medicine.
  • The Swedish Academy confers the prize for literature.
  • The Nobel Peace Prize is conferred by the Norwegian Nobel Committee based in Oslo.
  • The announcement of the 2021 Nobel Prizes began on October 4 and concluded on October 11, 2021.

2021 Nobel Prize in Peace:

  • Nobel Prize in Peace 2021 was jointly awarded to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.
  • Both of them are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.

2021 Nobel Prize in Medicine

  • The Nobel Prize for the year 2021 in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian “for their discoveries of Receptors for Temperature and Touch.”
  • Their discoveries have unlocked one of the secrets of nature by explaining the molecular basis for sensing heat, cold and mechanical force, which is fundamental for our ability to feel, interpret and interact with our internal and external environment.

 

2021 Nobel Prize for Physics

  • The 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi “for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems.”
  • Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann have been jointly awarded one half of the 2021 NobelPrize in Physics “for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming.”
  • Giorgio Parisi has been awarded one half of the 2021 #NobelPrize in Physics “for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.”

2021 Nobel Prize in Literature:

  • The Nobel Prize 2021 in Literature was awarded to the Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”

2021 Nobel Prize in Economics:

  • The 2021 Nobel Prize in Economics has been jointly awarded to David Card, Joshua D. Angrist and Guido W. Imbens.
  • One half was presented to David Card for his empirical contributions to labour economics while the other half was presented to Joshua D. Angrist and Guido W. Imbens for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships.

2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry:

  • The Nobel Prize 2021 in Chemistry has been awarded to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis.”
  • Benjamin List was born in Frankfurt, Germany at 1968. David William Cross MacMillan FRS FRSE is a Scottish born chemist.

About Alfred Bernhard Nobel:

  • Alfred Bernhard Nobel, born on 21 October 1833, was a Swedish inventor, entrepreneur, scientist and businessman who also wrote poetry and drama.
  • His varied interests are reflected in the prize he established.
  • He created a trust and wrote out directions to use the money in the trust to create five prizes to honor women and men for their outstanding achievements in chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, literature, and work towards peace.
  • He bequeathed his fortune to establish the Nobel Prize, though he also made several important contributions to science, holding 355 patents in his lifetime.
  • He was famous for his invention of dynamite.
  • Note: The Prize in Economic Sciences was established in 1968 in memory of Alfred Nobel.
  • The Prize money comes from the bequest left by the creator of the Prize, Alfred Nobel.

 

World Teachers Day:

 World Teachers’ Day also known as International Teachers’ Day is observed annually on October 5 since 1994.

Key Points:

The day is celebrated to honour teachers all around the world for their role in the economic development of their countries, as they are the sole reason for providing education to the society that enhances people’s quality of life.

It focuses on appreciation, assessment and changes required for teachers and are also an occasion to honour teachers for their contribution towards students.

 

Theme of World Teachers’ Day 2021:

The theme of World Teachers’ Day for 2021 is ‘Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery.’

This theme recognizes teachers for their tireless efforts even during times like the COVID 19 pandemic and lockdowns.

Due to their hardworking nature, teachers are known to help young children grow and learn, even in shaping the future generation.

History of the day:

The day was established in 1994, to commemorate the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which is a standard setting instrument that addresses the status and situations of teachers around the world.

World Teachers’ Day is co convened in partnership with the United Nations Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF), International Labour Organization (ILO), and Education International (EI).

                                                                  

Ethiopian Parliamentary Elections: The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed has recently been sworn in for a second five year term.

Highlights:  

PM Abiy’s Prosperity Party was declared the winner of June’s parliamentary elections, which were criticised by opposition parties but described by external observers as improved from past elections.

He was administered the oath of office by Supreme Court Chief Justice Meaza Ashenafi.

Senior diplomats from Somalia, Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal, and South Sudan also attended his swearing in ceremony.

He is serving as prime minister of Ethiopia since 2018.

Ethiopian Crisis:

He is dealing with a war that is spreading from the Tigray region and ethnic violence.

The eleven Month war is weakening the economy of Ethopia which was once one of Africa’s fastest growing.

It also threatens to isolate Abiy, once seen as a regional peacemaker who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for restoring ties with neighboring Eritrea.

About Ethopia:

Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa.

It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia (Somaliland) to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west and Sudan to the northwest.

The capital and largest city of Ethopia is Addis Ababa.

The currency used here is the Ethiopian birr.

                                    

Rohingya Crisis: Bangladesh is preparing to send more than 80,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island  Bhasan Char  in the Bay of Bengal after sealing an agreement for the United Nations to provide help.

Key Points:

  • Despite the doubts being raised by the aid groups, some 19,000 of the Muslim refugees from Myanmar have already relocated from crowded camps on the mainland to Bhashan Char Island.
  • The government has spent about $350 million building shelters on the 53 square kilometre (20 square mile) island.
  • Bhasan Char Island emerged from the sea only two decades ago.
  • It was formed by tidal silt deposits.
  • One has to travel by boat from Chittagong for several hours in order to reach the island.

Background:

  • Bhasan Char is an island specifically developed to accommodate 1,00,000 of the 1 million Rohingya who have fled from neighbouring Myanmar.
  • While human rights groups have criticised the move and some are being forced to go against their will.
  • However, the government has insisted that refugees moving to the island have done so voluntarily.

 Who are Rohingyas?

  • They are an Ethnic group, mostly Muslims.
  • They were not granted full citizenship by Myanmar as they classified as “resident foreigners or associate citizens”.
  • Ethnically they are much closer to Indo Aryan people of India and Bangladesh than to the Sino Tibetans of the Country.
  • Described by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as “one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world”.
  • About 850,000 Rohingya are packed into camps along the Bangladesh Myanmar border.
  • Most fled a Myanmar military clampdown in 2017 that the UN says could be genocide.

About Bangladesh:

  • It is a country which is bordered by the Indian states of West Bengal to the west and north, Assam to the north, Meghalaya to the north and northeast, and Tripura and Mizoram to the east.
  • To the southeast, it shares a boundary with Myanmar (Burma).
  • The southern part of Bangladesh opens into the Bay of Bengal.
  • Its Capital is Dhaka.
  • The currency used her is Bangladeshi Taka.
  • The Prime Minister of Bangladesh is Sheikh Hasina.

                                                                                                             

Madrid Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty: Union Minister Earth Sciences Dr Jitendra Singh recently addressed the International Conference commemorating the signing of the Madrid Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.

  • The Conference was attended virtually by Prime Minister of the host country Spain Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Newzealand Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of Australia James Morrison, Ministers and delegates representing the different countries signatory to the Protocol.

Key Facts:

  • India signed the Antarctic Treaty on 19th August 1983 and soon thereafter received consultative status on 12th September 1983.
  • India is one of the 29 Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty.
  • The Madrid Protocol was signed by India which came into force on 14th January, 1998.

Note: The Madrid system or Madrid Protocol is the primary international system for facilitating the registration of trademarks in multiple jurisdictions around the world.

  • The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed in Madrid on October 4, 1991 and entered into force in 1998.
  • It designates Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”.
  • India is also a member of Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programme (COMNAP) and Scientific Committee of Antarctica Research (SCAR).
  • All these representations show the significant position that India holds among the nations involved in Antarctic research.
  • India has two active research stations. They are:
  • Maitri (commissioned in 1989) at Schirmacher Hills.
  • Bharati (commissioned in 2012) at Larsemann Hills in Antarctica.
  • India has successfully launched 40 annual scientific expeditions to Antarctica till date.
  • With Himadri station in Ny Alesund, Svalbard, Arctic, India now belongs to the elite group of nations that have multiple research stations within the Polar Regions.

                                                                                                     

India & Denmark: India and Denmark have recently inked four agreements.

Key Details:

  • Both the nations have decided to expand cooperation following bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen in New Delhi.
  • PM of Denmark is on a visit to India from 9 to 11 October.
  • The agreements were signed in the following fields
  • On Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
  • On Traditional Knowledge Digital Library.
  • On establishing a Centre of Excellence towards natural refrigerants for tropical climates with potential applications.
  • On mapping of ground water resources and aquifers.
  • The two countries also decided to expand ties in the fields of health and agriculture.
  • They underlined the warm and friendly relations based on shared principles and values of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights.
  • They also agreed to enhance efforts for reforming and strengthening multilateralism and a rules based international order, including freedom of navigation.

India Denmark bilateral relations:

  • India and Denmark both support historical links, common democratic traditions and a shared desire for regional and international peace and stability.
  • In a Virtual Summit held on 28 September 2020, both the countries  had taken the historic decision of a ‘Green Strategic Partnership’.
  • Over 200 Danish companies are present in India, and over 60 Indian companies have a presence in Denmark.
  • India and Denmark have solid trade and investment ties.

About Denmark:

  • Denmark officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe.
  • It is a Scandinavian country comprising the Jutland Peninsula and around 406 islands.
  • It is bordered to the west by the North Sea, and its islands are located on the sea lane from the Baltic to the main oceans of the world, as well as the trade route from the Nordic countries to Central Europe.
  • It is an independent country since the late 10th century and is also one of the oldest states of Europe.
  • The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen.
  • The currency used here is Danish Krone.
  • The current prime minister of Denmark is Mette Frederiksen.

Note: It is a founding member of NATO, Nordic Council, OECD, OSCE, and United Nations.

 

Current International Events - September 2021

Prime Minister of Canada: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has won the third term to serve as the PM of the country, after his party won the 2021 parliamentary elections.

Key Highlights:

  • However, the Liberal Party of the 49yearold Trudeau failed to gain an absolute majority.
  • Trudeau, in power since 2015 and governing with a minority of House of Commons seats since 2019.
  • The Liberal victory is a historic milestone for Trudeau, marking only the eighth time a Canadian leader has won three successive elections.
  • Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, whose party placed second, conceded defeat as results trickled in late into the night.

About Canada:

  • Canada is a country in North America.
  • The word Canada is derived from the HuronIroquois kanata, meaning a village or settlement.
  • It is the second largest country in the world in area (after Russia), occupying roughly the northern twofifths of the continent of North America.
  • Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest binational land border.
  • Canada's capital is Ottawa.
  • The currency used here is Canadian dollar.

 

India and UAE CEPA: The Commerce Ministers of India and (United Arab Emirates) UAE have formally launched negotiations on the IndiaUnited Arab Emirates Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Key Highlights:

  • The first round of CEPA negotiations will be held on 2324 September 2021.
  • Both Indian Union Minister Piyush Goyal and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, emphasized that CEPA will create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in both nations.
  • CEPA is expected to increase bilateral trade in goods to USD 100 billion within five years of the signed agreement and increase trade in services to USD 15 billion.
  • It will also assist in postCovid economic recovery and future economic growth of both nations.

India and UAE  Economic Relations:

  • Currently, the UAE is India's thirdlargest trading partner with bilateral trade in 20192020 valued at $59 billion.
  • The UAE is also India’s secondlargest export destination after the US, with exports valued at approximately USD 29 billion in 20192020.
  • India was the UAE's secondlargest trading partner in 2019, with bilateral nonoil trade valued at $41 billion.
  • The UAE is the eighthlargest investor in India, having invested USD 11 billion between April 2000 and March 2021, while investment by Indian companies in the UAE is estimated to be over USD 85 billion.
  • India's major exports to the UAE include petroleum products, minerals, precious metals, stones, gems and jewellery, food items such as cereals, sugar, fruits and vegetables, tea, meat, and seafood, textiles, engineering and machinery products, and chemicals while India's top imports from the UAE include crude petroleum and petroleum products, jewellery, precious metals, stones, gems and, minerals, chemicals and wood and wood products.
  • In 20192020, India imported $10.9 billion of crude oil from the UAE.

Significance of free trade agreement:

  • Under a free trade agreement, two trading partners usually reduce or eliminate customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded.
  • They also liberalize norms to enhance trade services and boost investments.

 

World Maritime Day: World Maritime Day is celebrated annually on 24th September.

Highlight:

  • However, the exact date of celebrating World Maritime Day is left to the individual governments but is usually celebrated during the last week in September.
  • The day is celebrated to offer an opportunity to focus its attention on the significance of shipping as well as other maritime activities and to emphasize a particular aspect of the work of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

About World Maritime Day 2021:

  • IMO has chosen to make 2021 a year of action for seafarers, who are facing unprecedented hardship due to the COVID19 pandemic, despite their vital role as key workers for global supply chains.
  • The World Maritime Theme for 2021, "Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future".
  • This theme seeks to increase the visibility of seafarers by drawing attention to the invaluable role they play now and will continue to play in the future.
  • The focus on seafarers comes as the COVID19 pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on seafarers, with hundreds of thousands of men and women stranded on ships for months beyond their original contracts, unable to be repatriated due to national travel restrictions.
  • As part of its efforts to put seafarers at the heart of discussions, IMO has launched a series of profiles in which seafarers express their views on their work and the future of shipping.

History:

  • In 1948, an international conference in Geneva adopted a convention to establish the IMO, a specialized UN agency that develops and maintains a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping.
  • World Maritime Day was 1st held on 17th March 1978 to mark the date of the IMO Convention's entry into force in 1958.

Note: Earlier the name of IMO was the InterGovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation (IMCO) and in 1982 it was changed as International Maritime Organization (IMO).

  • The IMO majorly focuses on areas such as safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, maritime security, technical cooperation and efficiency of shipping.

Additional Info:

National Maritime Day in India:

  • National Maritime Day is celebrated every year on 5th April to commemorate the maiden voyage of the first Indian flag merchant vessel 'S.S LOYALTY' from Mumbai to London, on April 5th, 1919.
  • It is celebrated to encourage the merchant shipping industry of India. Shipping contributes a lot to the country’s economy.
  • In India, this day was celebrated for the first time in 1964.
  • National Maritime Day 2021 was the 58th National Maritime Day by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways.
  • Maritime India Vision2030, was also discussed at the occasion.
  • The 2021 Theme for National Maritime Day was ‘Sustainable Shipping beyond Covid19’.

About IMO:

  • It refers to the International Maritime Organization.
  • IMO was founded on 17 March 1948.
  • It is the UN specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
  • It is headquartered in London, United Kingdom.
  • Its main function is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical cooperation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.
  • Its current Secretary General is Kitak Lim.

 

WFPICRISAT Partnership: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Crops Research Institute for the SemiArid Tropics (ICRISAT) have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on programs and research to improve food, nutrition security and livelihoods in India against the impacts of climate change.

Key Details:

The MoU was signed on 23 September 2021, between WFP India representative and country director Bishow Parajuli and DirectorGeneral ICRISAT Jacqueline Hughes.

The partnership of WFPICRISAT will work in collaboration to promote research, advocacy and raise awareness regarding the traditional nutritious crops, undertaking food & nutritional security analysis.

This partnership aims at generating ideas and frameworks for policy positions relevant not just for India but regularly and globally.

Significance:

This is a strategic partnership between the WFP and ICRISAT as both are aligned by their vision of food security, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable communities.

This partnership strengthens efforts to bring together science, knowledge and implementation frameworks to bolster food security, nutrition and livelihoods that are resilient to climate change.

The WFPICRISAT partnership signing coincides with the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.

This MoU is of more significance as it was signed in the light of frequent and increasing number of climate crisis and shocks such as the COVID19 pandemic which has worsened the hunger situation globally and posed a threat to food security, nutrition, and the livelihoods of millions.

About World Food Programme (WFP):

The WFP is the foodassistance branch of the United Nations.

It is the world's largest humanitarian organization.

It is the largest one that focuses on hunger and food security, and it is also the largest provider of school meals.

It was founded in 1961.

It is headquartered in Rome, Italy.

It has offices in 80 countries.

About ICRISAT:

The ICRISAT (full form is International Crops Research Institute for the SemiArid Tropics) is an international organization that conducts agricultural research for rural development.

ICRISAT was founded in 1972 while its charter was signed by the FAO and the UNDP.   

It is headquartered in Patancheru, Hyderabad.

Other regional centres include Bamako in Mali, Kano in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya Niamey in Niger, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Lilongwe in Malawi.

 

India and Maldives: Maldives stateowned Fahi Dhiriulhun Corporation recently signed loan agreements with India’s stateowned National Buildings Construction Company (NBCC) and JMC Projects (India) Ltd. virtually.

Key Highlights:

  • The virtual signing ceremony was attended by Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail, Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer and High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir, along with representatives from EXIM Bank, FDC, NBCC and JMC.
  • The signing of this agreement comes weeks after the Maldives government officially inked a deal with Mumbaibased company AFCONS, for the construction of the Greater Malé Connectivity Project (GMCP), a $500million infrastructure project which is the largestever by India in the Maldives.

Key Points:

  • This is a part of India’s developmental assistance project in the Maldives.
  • The agreement was signed to develop 4,000 social housing units in Hulhulmalé (phase II) island.
  • India’s state owned Exim Bank extended buyer’s credit of approximately $228 million for the construction of these housing units.
  • The construction will be undertaken by the Imdia's National Buildings Construction Company (NBCC) and JMC Projects (India).
  • The contracts for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) were signed between Fahi Dhiriulhun Corporation and India’s stateowned National Buildings Construction Company (NBCC) to develop 2,000 social housing units, while Indiabased JMC Projects has been contracted to develop 2,000 additional units.

Why is it important?

  • Close to 40% of the entire population of the Maldives lives in Malé, the capital city, that has an area of approximately 8.30 square kilometres, making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
  • Social housing is an important requirement in the Maldives because in addition to housing shortage, high rent prices is a major challenge for ordinary people in the country.

About Maldives:

  • The Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small island nation in South Asia.
  • It is situated in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean.
  • It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India.
  • The Capital of Maldives is Male.
  • The Currency of the Maldives is Maldivian Rufiyaa.
  • The current President of the Maldives is Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

 

International Day of Peace: The International Day of Peace, also officially known as World Peace Day is observed around the world on 21 September every year.

Key Points:

  • The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of nonviolence and ceasefire both within and among all nations and peoples

2021 theme for the International Day of Peace:

  • The 2021 theme for the International Day of Peace is “Recovering Better for an Equitable and Sustainable World.” Celebrate peace by standing up against acts of hate online and offline, and by spreading compassion, kindness, and hope in the face of the pandemic, and as we recover.

Event:

  • On Tuesday (21 September, 2021), the 9th edition of the Geneva Peace Talks was held.
  • It was live streamed from the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
  • The event is organized under the United Nations' official theme of 2021.

History of the day:

  • The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
  • The day was celebrated for the first time in 1982.
  • Previously, till the year 2002, it was celebrated on the third Tuesday of September each year.  
  • Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of nonviolence and ceasefire.
  • The main focus of declaring 21 September day as International Day of Peace is to encourage people to work in cooperation and to maintain worldwide peace.

 

SCO: Iran was official admitted as a full member of the 9th member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Key Highlights:

  • The decision to admit Iran as a full member was declared in the 21st summit of the SCO leaders in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
  • At the end of the 21st Summit of the SCO, the leaders of the 8 main members of the organization agreed to change the membership of the Islamic Republic of Iran from an observer member to a full member and signed the relevant documents.
  • Iran had held the observer status for the past fifteen years.
  • Currently India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia are observers at SCO and the six members are Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • Accordingly, the technical process of Iran becoming one of the main members of the organization has begun and Iran will henceforth cooperate and interact with member countries as the main member of the important regional organization.

About SCO:

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), or Shanghai Pact, is a Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance.
  • SCO was founded in Shanghai, China on 15 June 2001.
  • The SCO currently comprises eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), four Observer States interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and six “Dialogue Partners” (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey).
  • Note: Iran has recently been admitted as a full member of SCO.
  • The SCO is the successor to the Shanghai Five, a mutual security agreement formed in 1996 between China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
  • The SCO is governed by the Heads of State Council (HSC), its supreme decisionmaking body, which meets once a year.
  • Military exercises are also regularly conducted among members to promote cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, and to maintain regional peace and stability.

Objectives of SCO:

The main objectives of the SCO are as follows:

  • To strengthen relations among member states
  • To promote cooperation in political affairs, economics and trade
  • To promote scientifictechnical, cultural, and educational spheres as well as in energy, transportation, tourism, and environmental protection
  • To safeguard regional peace, security, and stability
  • To create a democratic, equitable international political and economic order.

About Iran:

  • Iran also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Western Asia.
  • It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan,to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq.
  • Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. The capital of Iran is Tehran.
  • The currency used there is Iranian Rial.
  • The current President of Iran is Ebrahim Raisi.

 

Najib Mikati:

 Billionaire businessman Najib Mikati has been appointed as Lebanon’s new prime ministerdesignate following binding parliamentary consultations with President Michel Aoun.

Key Highlights:

  • Mikati ran virtually unopposed, receiving 72 votes, with former ambassador Nawaf Salam receiving just one vote.
  • He faced opposition from the country's two Christian parties, the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces.
  • His appointment comes just 11 days after Saad Hariri resigned as prime ministerdesignate, following nine months of political deadlock and dispute with President Aoun and his soninlaw MP Gebran Bassil.

Lebanon Crisis:

  • Lebanon’s economy is still crumbling with half the population living below the poverty line and a spiralling local currency that lost more than 90% of its value.
  • The country has also been without a fullfledged government for almost one year.
  • It is struggling to reform its economy to unlock international aid.

About Lebanon:

  • Lebanon, officially known as the Republic of Lebanon, is a country in Western Asia.
  • It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, while Cyprus lies west across the Mediterranean Sea.
  • It is situated by the Lebanon Mountains and has taken on a triangular shape.
  • It is largely influenced by its situation between and atop two hills: AlMusaytibah and AlAshrafieh.
  • The capital of Lebanon is Beirut.
  • The currency used here is Lebanese pound.
  • The current President of Lebanon is Michel Aoun.

 

CAFMD: India and the United States jointly launched the Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue (CAFMD) of the Agenda 2030 Partnership recently.

Key Highlights:

  • The dialogue was formally launched by Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Bhupender Yadav and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC) John Kerry at an event held in New Delhi.
  • The CAFMD is one of the two main tracks of the USIndia Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership.
  • This Partnership will provide both countries with an opportunity to renew collaborations on climate change.
  • It will provide both countries an opportunity to renew collaborations on climate change and also address the financing aspects.
  • It will deliver climate finance primarily as grants and concessional finance, as envisaged under Paris Agreement to strengthen climate action,
  • The dialogue will not only strengthen IndiaUS bilateral cooperation on climate and environment but will also help to demonstrate how the world can align swift climate action with inclusive and resilient economic development.

Significance:

  • This partnership would serve as a “powerful avenue for IndiaU.S. collaboration
  • It would have three pillars:
  • The first pillar would be a “climate action pillar” which would have joint proposals looking at ways in emissions could be reduced in the next decade.
  • The second pillar would be setting out a roadmap to achieving the 450GW in transportation, buildings and industry.
  • The final pillar or the ''Finance Pillar” would involve collaborating on attracting finance to deploy 450 GW of renewable energy and demonstrate at scale clean energy technologies.

Objective:

This initiative was started with the objective:

  • To mobilize investments
  • To demonstrate clean technologies
  • To enable green collaborations in India in order to create templates of sustainable development for other developing countries.

Background:

This was one of the main tracks of the U.S.India Agenda 2030 Partnership that President Biden and Prime Minister Modi announced at the Leaders Summit on Climate in April 2021.

Additional Info:

  • The launch was preceded by a bilateral meet where both sides discussed at length a wide range of climate issues relating to COP26, Climate Ambition, Climate Finance, Global Climate Initiatives including International Solar Alliance (ISA), Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C).
  • The special envoy's travel will also bolster the US bilateral and multilateral climate efforts ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The 26th Conference of COP26 will be held from October 31 to November 12, 2021, in Glasgow (United Kingdom).

 

AUKUS: Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. announced a new trilateral security partnership, AUKUS.

Highlights:

  • It is a new trilateral security partnership for IndoPacific region.
  • This security grouping was announced in a joint address by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and US President Joe Biden with a vision for a safer and more secure IndoPacific.
  • The three countries are forming a new security alliance that will help equip Australia with nuclearpowered submarines.
  • These three heads of state reaffirmed their intention to continue to work with their allies and groupings in tandem with AUKUS, with the Quad being mentioned by Morrison and Biden.

Key Points about AUKUS:

  • Under the arrangement, Australia will acquire nuclearpowered submarines with help from the U.K. and the U.S.
  • Within 18 months, the first fleet of nuclearpowered submarines will be delivered.
  • The pact will help Australia to acquire submarines that are quieter, more capable as compared to their conventional counterparts.
  • These submarines are capable of being deployed for longer periods and remain submerged for longer periods than conventional submarines.
  • However, these nuclear powered submarines and not armed with nuclear weapons.
  • AUKUS will not only involve a new architecture of meeting and engagements between three countries but it also involves the cooperation across emerging technologies like AI (Artificial Intellegence), quantum technologies as well as undersea capabilities.
  • With this, Australia will join the league of nations that operate nuclearpowered submarines. These are the U.S., the U.K., France, India, China, and Russia.

What is the purpose of forming AUKUS?

  • This initiative was launched in response of Australia wanting to strengthen its feet with regard to maritime security in the IndoPacific region.
  • Furthermore, tensions between Australia and an increasingly assertive China have grown, so, Australia has sought to strengthen its partnerships with India, the U.S., the U.K. and Japan as well as through other plurilateral forums.

Significance:

  • The AUKUS will advance strategic interests, uphold the international rulesbased order, promote peace and stability in the IndoPacific region, along with generating hundreds of highskilled jobs.
  • As per the analysts, this alliance is the most significant security arrangement between the three nations since World War II, as per the analysts.
  • The AUKUS is different from, but complementary to other groupings such as Quad and Five Eyes Network.
  • In addition, the US is sharing its submarine technology for the first time in 50 years and had shared it previously only with the UK.  

About Australia:

  • Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia is a sovereign country and the smallest continent and one of the largest countries on Earth.
  • It lies between the Pacific and Indian oceans in the Southern Hemisphere. Australia's capital is Canberra.
  • The currency used there is Australian dollar (AUD).
  • The current Prime Minister of Australia is Scott Morrison.

About U.K. (United Kingdom):

  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK or U.K.) or Britain,is a sovereign country located off the north­western coast of the European mainland.
  • The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north­eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands.
  • It consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, The North Sea, and the Irish Sea.
  • The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy.
  • The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the world's longestserving current head of state.
  • The capital of the United Kingdom is London.
  • The currency used here is Pound sterling.
  • The current Prime Minister of UK is Boris Johnson.

About U.S. (United States):

  • The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country consisting of 50 states, a federal district, five major selfgoverning territories, and various possessions.
  • The 50 states covers a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean.
  • The currency used in USA is United States dollar  USD also abbreviated US$.
  • The capital of US is Washington, D.C.
  • The current President of US is Joe Biden

 

International Day of Democracy: International Day of Democracy is observed globally on 15th September every year.

Highlights:

  • The day is observed for promoting and upholding the principles of democracy.
  • It provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world.

International Day of Democracy 2021:

  • International Day of Democracy was observed on September 15, 2021, in order to review the state of democracy across the globe.
  • The theme for 2021 International Day of Democracy is “Strengthening democratic resilience in the face of future crises”.
  • The aim of the day is to make the ideal of democracy “into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.”

History of the day:

  • The Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) through a resolution in 2007 to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy.
  • The day is largely based on the Universal Declaration on Democracy, which was adopted on September 15, 1997, by the InterParliamentary Union (IPU).

Note: The IPU is an international organization of national parliaments.

  • However, the seeds of International Day of Democracy were sown in the year 1988.
  • That year, President Corazon C. Aquino of the Philippines started the International Conferences on the New and Restored Democracies (ICNRD) process.
  • In 2006, ICNRD6, held in Qatar, decided on a declaration that reestablished the basic principles of democracy.
  • Thereafter, Qatar took the lead to promote a resolution for the International Day of Democracy in the UN General Assembly.
  • Finally, on November 8, 2007, the day was established as the UNGA adopted by consensus the resolution titled “Support by United Nations system of efforts of governments to promote and consolidate a new or restored democracy.
  • The day was observed for the first time in 2008.

Significance:

  • According to the United Nations (UN), the International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world.
  • Democracy is a process as a goal which can be made into a reality only with the full participation of international community.
  • It is essentially a government that empowers its people to make decisions concerning national interests.
  • Essential elements of democracy include:
  • Values of freedom,
  • Respect for human rights  
  • Holding periodic & genuine elections by universal suffrage.

 

CSTO: A Russialed security bloc  Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is planning to hold large military drills in Tajikistan.

Highlights:

CSTO has planned to hold this drill amid a deteriorating situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.

What is the rationale behind this military exercise in Tajikistan?

The rationale behind this drill is that:

Tajikistan is the only country out of the sixmember bloc led by Russia that shares a border with Afghanistan.

The group has taken “collective measures” to ensure Tajikistan’s security in case of an “aggravation” on its border with Afghanistan.

The series of drills will include the largest exercise this year among CSTO nations.

Moscow has moved to cement its position as a key player in the region after the United States’ hasty retreat from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

About Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO):

The CSTO is an intergovernmental military alliance in Eurasia that consists of selected postSoviet states.

On 15 May 1992, the Collective Security Treaty was signed by the heads of Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

This treaty is also referred to as the “Tashkent Pact” or “Tashkent Treaty”.

Three other postSoviet states—Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Georgia—signed the next year and the treaty took effect in 1994.

Five years later, six of the nine—all but Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan—agreed to renew the treaty for five more years.

Then in 2002 those six agreed to create the Collective Security Treaty Organization as a military alliance.

It is headquartered in the Russian capital of Moscow.

Note: Afghanistan and Serbia hold observer status in the CSTO.

What are the objectives of CSTO?

  • The objectives of the CSTO is to strengthen peace, international and regional security including cybersecurity and stability, the protection on a collective basis of the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the member states.

 

Quad Summit 2021: The US President Joe Biden recently announced that it will be hosting the firstever inperson Quad Summit on September 24, 2021, in Washington.

Highlights:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga will be present at the meeting.
  • PM Modi will travel to the US to attend the Quad Leaders summit and address the UN General Assembly in New York on September 25, 2021.
  • According to the White House statement, at the meeting, the Quad leaders will focus on issues related to the Covid19 crisis, climate change, cyberspace and security in the IndoPacific.
  • The firstever Quad leaders’ summit will also be the first inperson meeting of PM Modi and US President Biden.
  • The two leaders have interacted virtually three times during the Quad summit in March 2021, the Climate Change summit in April 2021, and the G7 summit in June 2021 amid the COVID19 pandemic.

Agenda:

  • The White House statement stated that the “Biden administration has made elevating the Quad summit a priority of engaging in the IndoPacific, including through new multilateral configurations to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
  • The Quad leaders will ‘review the progress made since their first virtual Quad summit held on March 12, 2021, and deliberate on regional issues of shared interest.
  • The leaders will also review the Quad Vaccine initiative that was announced in the Quad Summit held in March 2021 as part of their ongoing efforts to contain the COVID19 pandemic.
  • The leaders will deliberate on contemporary global issues such as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, connectivity and infrastructure, critical and emerging technologies, cyber security, education, and climate change.

About Quad:

  • The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, also known as the Quad, is a strategic dialogue between the United States (US), India, Australia, and Japan.
  • The representatives for the fourmember nations have met periodically since its establishment in 2007.
  • Following the Indian Ocean tsunami, India, Japan, Australia, and the US created an informal alliance to collaborate on disaster relief efforts.
  • The Quad was formed in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe along with support from the then US Vice President Dick Cheney, Indian PM Manmohan Singh, and Australian PM John Howard.
  • In December 2012, Shinzo Abe again floated the concept of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond” involving Australia, India, Japan and the US to safeguard the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.
  • In 2017, faced again with the rising threat of China, the four countries revived the Quad, broadening its objectives and creating a mechanism that aimed to slowly establish a rulesbased international order.
  • In 2020, the trilateral IndiaUSJapan Malabar naval exercises expanded to include Australia, marking the first official grouping of the Quad since its resurgence in 2017 and the first joint military exercises among the four countries in over a decade.
  • In March 2021, the Quad leaders met virtually and later released a joint statement titled ‘The Spirit of the Quad,’ which outlined the group’s approach and objectives.

How was Quad formed?

  • The beginning of the Quad group can be traced to the evolution of Exercise Malabar.
  • The military exercise was widely viewed as a response to the increasing economic and military power of China.
  • The Chinese government therefore issued formal diplomatic protests to the members of the Quad. The US, Japan, and India continue to hold joint naval exercises through Malabar.
  • The Quad however ceased due to the withdrawal of Australia in the wake of the growing tension between the US and China in the AsiaPacific region.
  • In 2010, Julia Gillard replaced Australian PM Rudd following which enhanced military cooperation between Australia and the US was resumed.
  • During the 2017 ASEAN Summits in Manila, all four member countries namely the US, India, Australia, and Japan led by Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Malcolm Turnbull, and Shinzo Abe came together to revive the Quad alliance in order to curb the growing military power of China in the South China Sea.

The objectives of the Quad are:

  • To advance the security and the economic interests of all countries.
  • To develop a free and open IndoPacific free of any Chinese influence,
  • To develop a rulesbased maritime order in the South and East China seas to counter the Chinese military power

 

 

Aziz Akhannouch: Aziz Akhannouch has recently been appointed as the new Prime Minister of Morocco.

Key Highlights:

  • He was appointed by the country’s King Mohammed VI.
  • Akhannouch’s National Rally of Independents (RNI) party secured 102 out of the 395 seats in the parliament election, held on September 10, 2021.
  • He defeated the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which won a paltry 13 seats.

About Aziz Akhannouch:

  • Prior to this appointment, the 60yearold was the Minister of Agriculture from 2007 to 2021.
  • He is one of the wealthiest people in Morocco with an estimated fortune of around $2 billion.
  • He is the CEO of the Akwa Group. It is a Moroccon conglomerate that operates mainly in the gas and the oil sector.

About Morocco:

  • Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco is the northwesternmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa.
  • It lies directly across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain.
  • It is bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Algeria and Western Sahara are the land borders to the south and east.
  • The high Atlas Mountains separate the mild coastline from the harsh Sahara.
  • Moroccan identity and culture is a vibrant mix of Berber, Arab, and European cultures.
  • Its capital is Rabat.
  • The currency used here is Moroccan dirham.
  • The current King of Morocco is Mohammed VI.

 

13th BRICS Summit: 

As part of India’s ongoing Chairship of BRICS in 2021, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi chaired the 13th BRICS Summit on 9 September 2021 in virtual format.

Key Highlights:

  • This is the second time Prime Minister Modi has chaired the BRICS summit.
  • He had chaired the Goa summit in 2016.

About the Summit:

  • The meeting was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
  • During the summit, Indian Prime Minister appreciated the cooperation received from BRICS partners during Chairship of India this year.
  • The Indian Chairship of BRICS this year coincides with the 15th anniversary of BRICS.
  • The theme selected by India for the summit was: ‘BRICS@15: IntraBRICS cooperation for continuity, consolidation and consensus’.
  • The summit focused extensively on the situation in Afghanistan.
  • India had outlined four priority areas for its Chairship. These reforms were as follows:
  • Reform of the multilateral system.
  • Counterterrorism.
  • Using digital and technological tools for achieving SDGs.
  • Enhancing peopletopeople exchanges.
  • The following several new initiatives were taken:
  • BRICS CounterTerrorism Action Plan
  • First BRICS Digital Health Summit
  • First BRICS Ministerial Joint Statement on multilateral reforms
  • Agreement on cooperation in field of remotesensing satellites
  • Virtual BRICS vaccine Research & Development Centre
  • BRICS Alliance on Green Tourism etc.
  • In addition to these areas, the leaders also exchanged views on the impact of the Covid19 pandemic and other current global and regional issues.
  • PM Modi called for an enhanced BRICS cooperation with the motto of ‘Buildback Resiliently, Innovatively, Credibly & Sustainably’.
  • The Summit was concluded with the adoption of ‘New Delhi Declaration’.

 

Note: BRICS (BrazilRussiaIndiaChinaSouth Africa) brings together five of the largest developing countries of the world – representing 41 percent of the global population, 24 percent of the global GDP and 16 percent of the global trade.

About BRICS:

  • BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies which are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010.
  • The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs. All are also the members of G20.
  • Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.
  • BRICS headquarter is situated at Shanghai, China.
  • BRICS members are known for their influence in regional affairs.

 

Sherpa for G20: Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and Textiles, has been appointed as India’s Sherpa for the G20.

Highlights:

  • G20 is a major international grouping that brings together 19 of the world’s major economies and the European Union.
  • Its members accounts for more than 80% of global GDP, 75% of global trade and 60% of global population.
  • The next G20 Summit is scheduled for 3031 October 2021 under Italian Presidency.
  • Prime Minister Modi has been leading India’s representation at G20 Summits since 2014.
  • India has been a member of the G20 since its inception in 1999.
  • India will hold the G20 Presidency from December 1, 2022 and will also convene G20 Leaders’ Summit in 2023 for the first time.
  • India will also be part of the G20 Troika (preceding, current, and incoming G20 Presidencies) from December 1, 2021 to November 30, 2024.

About G20 (or Group of Twenty):

  • The G20 means the Group of Twenty.
  • It is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union (EU).
  • The membership of the G20 consists of 19 individual countries plus the European Union.
  • The members of the G20 group are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU).
  • The EU is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.
  • It was established on 26 September 1999 with an aim to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.  
  • The objective of G20 is to unite world leaders around shared economic, political and health challenges.
  • The current Chairman of G20 Mario Draghi (2021).

Who is a Sherpa in G20?

  • Sherpa is the personal representative of the head of state or government who prepares an international summit, specially the annual G7 and G20 summits.
  • Sherpa is generally influential, but they do not have any authority to make final decision regarding any given agreement.

Note: The name is derived from the Sherpa people, a Nepalese ethnic group, who serve as guides and porters in the Himalayas, a reference to the fact that the Sherpa clears the way for a head of state at a major summit.

 

World EV Day: World EV (Electric Vehicle) Day is observed on September 9 every year.

Key Highlights:

  • The day marks the celebration of emobility.
  • It is a social media campaign which not only encourages drivers to recognize the benefits of electric vehicles but it also encourages them to make commitment that the next car they drive will be electric and not the one running on conventional fuels.
  • On this occasion, special awareness campaigns are organized globally in order to educate people regarding the benefits of electric vehicles.
  • World EV Day works alongside the Green TV’s EV Summit.

About EV Summit:

  • EV Summit brings together the emobility leaders from across the world together to brainstorm on how they can take electrification and sustainable transport forwards.
  • It is organized by Green.TV.

History:

  • World EV Day was an initiative created by the sustainability media company GreenTV.
  • The first World EV day was observed in 2020.

Note: China is the largest EV market in the world.

EV in India:

  • India too is emerging as the as next favourite destination for automotive companies.
  • Indian government has also promised to offer all possible help to take electric vehicle industry forward.
  • Currently, the automotive industry of India is the fifth largest worldwide and is set to become third largest by 2030.
  • Recently, Tesla which is  a leading electric vehicle & clean energy company, Japanbased Suzuki and Tata Motors have plans to launch electric cars by 2025. 

U.S.India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP): Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri cochaired a virtual Ministerial meeting with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ms. Jennifer Granholm to launch the revamped U.S.India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP).

Background:

The SCEP is launched in accordance with U.S.India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden at the Leaders Summit on Climate held in April 2021.

Key Points:

The SCEP organizes intergovernmental engagement across the following five pillars of cooperation:

Power and Energy Efficiency

Responsible Oil and Gas

Renewable Energy

Sustainable Growth  

Emerging Fuels

The Indian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) also announced the launch of the IndiaUS Task Force on Biofuels to build on the scope of work on cooperation in biofuels sector.

Furthermore, the two sides also announced rechristening of Gas Task Force to IndiaUS Low Emissions Gas Task Force, which would continue to forge collaboration between U.S. and Indian companies on innovative projects to support India’s vision of gasbased economy.

Both sides have initiated institutionalization of India Energy Modeling Forum with the constitution of Six Task Forces for carrying out research and modeling in different areas.

They agreed to continue to develop better understandings on methane abatement under this Task Force.

Building on the success of the first phase, both the sides agreed to expand the scope of the work to include smart grid and grid storage as part of the second phase of the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE)R initiative anchored on the Indian side by the Department of Science & Technology (DST).

The meeting also reviewed the progress on the IndiaUS Civil Nuclear Energy cooperation.

 

 

Maritime Affairs Dialogue between India and Japan: India and Japan recently held their sixth Maritime Affairs Dialogue in a virtual format.

The consultations involved exchanges on developments in the maritime security environment, regional cooperation activities and opportunities for cooperation between the two countries in the IndoPacific region.

India and Japan Relations:

  • Diplomatic, trade, economic, and technical relations between India and Japan were well established
  • Japan and India signed a peace treaty and established diplomatic relations on 28th April, 1952.
  • This treaty was one of the first peace treaties Japan signed after World War II.
  • Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries have enjoyed cordial relations.

Historical Facts:

  • At the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, Indian Justice Radhabinod Pal became famous for his dissenting judgment in favor of Japan.
  • The judgment of Justice Radhabinod Pal became a symbol of the close ties between India and Japan.
  • A monument honouring Radhabinod Pal is at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, Japan.
  • On 15 August 1947, Japan was among the first nations to recognize Indian sovereignty after its independence from the United Kingdom.
  • A relatively wellknown result of the two nations' was in 1949, when India sent the Tokyo Zoo two elephants to cheer the spirits of the defeated Japanese empire.
  • India refused to attend the San Francisco Peace Conference in 1951 due to its concerns over limitations imposed upon Japanese sovereignty and national independence.
  • After the restoration of Japan's sovereignty, Japan and India signed a peace treaty, establishing official diplomatic relations on 28 April 1952, in which India waived all reparation claims against Japan.
  • This treaty was one of the first treaties Japan signed after World War II.

About Japan:

  • Japan is an island country located in East Asia.
  • It is made up of 6,852 islands.
  • The Japanese name for Japan is Nihon or Nippon which means sun origin.
  • It is bordered by the Sea of Japan to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east, and spans from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Philippine Sea in the south.
  • Tokyo is the capital of Japan.
  • The currency used there is Japanese Yen.

 

International Literacy Day: International Literacy Day (ILD) is located globally on 8th September each and every year.

Highlights:

The day spread awareness about the importance of literacy for individuals, communities, and societies and the want for intensified efforts closer to extra literate societies.

ILD 2021 provides an opportunity to reflect on and discuss how innovative and effective pedagogies and teaching methodologies can be used in youth and adult literacy programs to face the pandemic and beyond.

Theme:

The International Literacy Day theme for 2021 is Literacy for a humancentred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide.

History:

  • The 8th of September was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1966 to remind the global neighbourhood of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards extra literate societies.
  • It was celebrated for the 1st time in 1967.
  • This tradition has been held annually for more than 50 years now.

Important Info:

The 2030 Agenda:

  • Literacy goals are a key part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The SDG agenda contains 17 goals and 169 targets, adopted in 2015 to build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were adopted in 2000.
  • The SDGs are meant to be achieved by 2030, and the UN Resolution of which they are a part is called “The 2030 Agenda”.

Literacy rate in India:

  • In India, as per the last census in 2011, a total of 74.04 per cent are literate, an increase of 9.2 per cent from the last decade (200111).
  • As per UNESCO, India will take another 50 years to achieve universal literacy, which is 2060.

 

International Day for People of African Descent: The International Day for People of African Descent was celebrated for the first time on 31 August 2021.

Aim:

  • The main aim of celebrating this day by the United Nations is to promote the extraordinary contributions of the African diaspora around the world and to eliminate all forms of discrimination against people of African descent.

History:

 

  • The year 2020 marked the midterm of the International Decade for People of African Descent.


  • While some progress has been made at legislative, policy, and institutional levels, people of African descent continue to suffer intersectional and compounded forms of racial discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion.

  • The year 2020 also marked a turning point in the way these issues are being addressed at international and national levels. The murder of George Floyd followed galvanized people to protest racism and racial discrimination and prompted important global discussions on racial justice.

  • On 19 June 2020, the Human Rights Council adopted the resolution on the “Promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers”.

Resolution on Afghanistan: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), on August 30, 2021 under the Presidency of India, adopted a resolution on the situation in Afghanistan.

India has assumed the Presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of August.

Key Highlights:

  • The 7-point resolution on Afghanistan adopted by UNSC demanded that the Taliban-captured Afghan territory, ‘not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists’.

  • Resolution was put forward by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies namely the UK, the US, and France.

  • It was adopted with the votes of 13 Council members in favour.

  • Permanent members Russia and China abstained from the voting.

  • This is the first resolution adopted by the UNSC on the Afghanistan situation since the Taliban's takeover of the war-torn country.

Taliban Takeover:

  • The Taliban, on August 15, 2021, tookover Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

  • They captured most of the territories in war-torn Afghanistan two weeks before the United States was set to complete its troop withdrawal, ending the longest war in US history.

  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was also forced to flee to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

  • The US and North-Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have pulled their military forces out of the country.

About United Nations Security Council (UNSC):

  • UNSC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations.

  • It was founded on 24 October 1945.

  • UNSC was created after World War II to address failings of the League of Nations in maintaining peace across the world.

  • It is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security.

  • Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

  • It is headquartered in New York, United States.

  • Its function includes the establishment of peacekeeping operations and international sanctions as well as the authorization of military actions through resolutions.

  • It is the only body of the United Nations (UN) with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

  • The council held its first session on 17 January 1946.

Members:

  • The Security Council comprises of 15 members out of which five members are permanent and 10 are non-permanent members elected for a period of two years.

  • The permanent members are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

  • Permanent members can use their veto power on substantive resolution.

  • Remaining ten members are elected on a regional basis and serve for a term of two years. Presidency of the body rotates monthly among its members.

Universal Postal Union (UPU): India has won the elections for membership of two key bodies of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), during the 27th UPU Congress in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Key Highlights:

  • India was elected with 106 votes out of 156 countries to the Postal Operations Council (POC).

  • India also got elected to the Council of Administration (CA) with 134 votes.

  • The country received the highest votes in CA elections from South Asia and the Oceania region.

  • India will now work with all to strengthen cooperation in the Universal Postal Union.

  • The UPC meets every 4 years.

About Universal Postal Union (UPU):

  • The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system.

  • It was established by the Treaty of Bern 1874 on 9 October 1874.

  • UPU’s headquarters are located in Bern, Switzerland.

  • The UPU contains four bodies consisting of Congress, the Council of Administration (CA), the Postal Operations Council (POC), and the International Bureau (IB).

  • It also oversees the Telematics and Express Mail Service (EMS) cooperatives.

  • The current Universal Postal Union Director-General is Masahiko Meteko.

About Postal Operations Council:

 

  • The Postal Operations Council (POC) is the technical and operational authority of UPU.

  • It is made up of 40 member countries that are elected during Congress.

  • The organization elects its own chair and meets once a year at the headquarters of the UPU in Berne.

  • The work of the POC is aimed at assisting Posts in modernizing and upgrading their postal products and services.

  • It is concerned with the postal service’s operational, economic, and commercial aspects. In areas where uniform procedures are required, the council also offers recommendations to member countries on standards for technological, operational, or other processes.

About the Council of Administration (CA):

  • The Council of Administration (CA) is made up of 41 countries.

  • The council meets once a year at the headquarters of the UPU in Berne.

  • It oversees the UPU’s activities, provides continuity between Congresses, and researches regulatory, administrative, legislative, and legal concerns.

  • The CA has the authority to approve recommendations by the Postal Operations Council for the adoption of regulations or new processes until the next Congress, ensuring that the UPU can respond promptly to developments in the postal environment.

Sri Lanka Economic Emergency: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently declared an economic emergency in the country.

Key Details:

  • The emergency was declared to contain soaring inflation after a steep fall in the value of the South Asian country’s currency caused a spike in food prices.

  • The state of emergency was declared under the public security ordinance to prevent the hoarding of essential items, including rice and sugar.

  • The Sri Lankan Government has also increased penalties for food hoarding.

  • The president promulgated emergency regulations under the Public Security Ordinance on the supply of essential goods.

  • The wide-ranging measure is also aimed at recovering credit owed to state banks by importers.

  • But shortages of food come as Sri Lanka battles a fierce coronavirus wave, claiming more than 200 lives a day.

What is the reason for rising prices?

  • The Sri Lankan rupee has fallen by 7.5 per cent against the US dollar this year.

  • The increase in the foreign exchange rate.

  • The country, which is a net importer of food and other commodities, is witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths which has hit tourism, one of the country’s main foreign currency earners.

  • President also named a top army officer as “Commissioner General of Essential Services to coordinate the supply of paddy, rice, sugar and other consumer goods”.

  • This move followed sharp price rises for sugar, rice, onions and potatoes.

  • Price rise was supplemented by long queues outside stores because of shortages of milk powder, cooking gas and kerosene oil.

  • A presidential aide has warned that fuel rationing may also be introduced by the end of the year unless consumption was reduced.

About Sri Lanka:

  • Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia.

  • It is located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea.

  • The capitals of Srilanka are Colombo and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.

  • Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital while Colombo is the largest city and center of commerce.

  • The currency used here is Sri Lankan rupee.

  • The current President and Prime Minister of Srilanka are Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa respectively.

India and Russia: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and Institute of Professional Accountants of Russia (IPAR).

Key Points:

  • The MoU between ICAI of India and IPAR of Russia seeks to help in establishing mutual cooperation in the areas of Professional Accountancy Training, Professional Ethics, Technical Research, Advancement of Accounting Knowledge, Professional and Intellectual Development.

  • It is expected to give ICAI Members a boost in their quest for professional possibilities in Russia.


 

  • The ICAI will be able to help in deepening the partnership with Russia by providing Export of Accountancy Services under the terms of the MoU.

Impact:

  • The goal of the MoU is to collaborate in order to build a mutually beneficial relationship that benefits both ICAI members and the two organizations.

About ICAI:

  • The ICAI is a statutory body established under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 for the regulation of the profession of Chartered Accountants in India.

  • ICAI has contributed immensely in the field of education, professional development, maintenance of high accounting, auditing and ethical standards in furtherance of the profession of Chartered accountants, which is recognized globally.

About IPAR:

  • The Institute of Professional Accountants of Russia (IPAR) is the largest not-for-profit accounting organization of Russia.

UN Security Council: India officially took over the presidency of UNSC on August 2, 2021.

Highlights:

  • This is India’s eighth term as a non-permanent member of UNSC and it has assumed the rotating presidency in all its terms since 1950.

  • The presidency of the Council is held by each of the members in turn for one month, following the English alphabetical order of the Member States’ names.

  • India’s previous tenures according to the details provided under “Members” category in the UNSC website has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UNSC for 1950-51, 1967-68, 1972-73, 1977-78, 1984-85, 1991-92 and 2011-12.

Key Points:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually presided over the Council meeting. He is the first Indian PM to chair an open debate at the UNSC.

  • Last year when the UN celebrated the 75th year of its foundation, India was elected to the Council along with Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway. India began its eighth term on January 1, 2021.

  • Accordingly, the presidency of UNSC was passed on from France to India in August 2021, and Ireland will take over the role from India in September.

  • India is set to take over presidency of the council again in December 2022.

About UNSC:

  • United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. It is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security.

  • The Security Council comprises of 15 members out of which five members are permanent and 10 are non-permanent members elected for a period of two years.

  • Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

  • It is headquartered in New York, United States.

  • It was founded on 24 October 1945.

  • Its function includes the establishment of peacekeeping operations and international sanctions as well as the authorization of military actions through resolutions.

  • It is the only body of the United Nations (UN) with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

  • The council held its first session on 17 January 1946.

Important Additional Info:

  • India is a founding member of the UN.

  • India signed the Charter of the United Nations along with 50 other countries in 1945 even before gaining independence is a measure of its credentials—millennial civilizations, multi-faceted diversities and peaceful vocation.

  • Vijaya Laxmi Pandit was elected president of the eight-session of the UN General Assembly in 1953, the first woman to head the organization.

  • Over the decades, India has made an enormous contribution to the United Nations through the efforts of its government and the work of Indian scholars, soldiers and international civil servants.

  • Since the onset of its peacekeeping mission in 1948, India has sent contingents on 49 occasions, contributed close to 200,000 troops, and in 2007 had the unique distinction of deploying the first all-women peacekeeping force to Liberia.

BRICS 2021 NSA Meeting:

India's National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval hosted the 11th Meeting of the BRICS High Representatives Responsible for National Security through video conferencing.

Note: BRICS members comprise Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

About the BRICS 2021 NSA Meeting:

The 13th BRICS Summit is a series of events that are being held under India's Chairship in 2021.

This is the third time India is hosting the BRICS Summit after 2012 and 2016.

The theme for this edition is 'BRICS @ 15: Intra-BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus'.

The meeting of NSAs of the member countries is being amid the held the Taliban's hostile takeover of Afghanistan and discussion on the future of Afghanistan is expected to be the agenda.

The meeting of the NSAs aims to strengthen security cooperation among the member countries.

Key Points of the meeting:

  • The meeting was attended by the Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Gen Patrushev, Chinese Politburo Member Yang Jeichi, South African Deputy Minister of State Security Ncediso Goodenough Kodwa and Gen Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, Minister of State and Head of the Institutional Security Cabinet of the Presidency of Brazil.

  • At the meet, India launched a veiled attack on Islamabad, saying that terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohamed are enjoying state support and are threatening peace.

  • The BROCS NSA meeting adopted and recommended the BRICS counter-terrorism action plan for consideration by the BRICS Summit.

  • The Action Plan aims to further strengthen existing mechanisms of cooperation in areas such as financing and combating terrorism, misuse of the internet by terrorists, curbing the travel of terrorists, border controls, protection of soft targets, information sharing, capacity building, and regional and international cooperation.

  • The Afghanistan scenario and developments in Iran, West Asia and the Gulf region was discussed by NSA Ajit Doval and other top security officials of the BRICS.

  • The health safety and healthcare issues amid COVID-19 outbreak was discussed by the Top security officials of the BRICS.

  • India took a dig at Pakistan over cross-border terrorism at BRICS meet.

Additional info:

  • India hods th chairship of BRICS for 2021 which coincides with the 15th anniversary of the BRICS grouping.

  • The BRICS Summit is scheduled to be hosted by India in September 2021.

Background:

  • Under India's chairship in the earlier summit, the BRICS members' space agencies heads signed an agreement for cooperation in remote sensing satellite data sharing.

  • The agreement enables building a virtual constellation of specified remote sensing satellites of BRICS space agencies and their respective ground stations that will receive the data.

  • This will contribute to strengthening multilateral cooperation among BRICS space agencies in meeting the challenges faced by mankind, such as global climate change, major disasters and environmental protection.

  • In July, the BRICS meeting of the Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues was held.

  • During the three-day meeting, the BRICS members agreed on various proposals circulated by India, for strengthening and increasing the intra-BRICS cooperation and trade.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition:

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is observed on August 23, every year.

This day is observed in the memory of millions of people who were the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

How this day is celebrated?

  • UNESCO Member States celebrate this day by organizing events and inviting participation from young people, artists, educators and intellectuals.

  • The year 2001 saw the participation of the Mulhouse Textile Museum in France in the form of a workshop for fabrics called "Indiennes de Traite" (a type of calico) which served as currency for the exchange of slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

History:

The day was designated by UNESCO to memorialize the transatlantic slave trade.

It is a day to honour the memory of the men and women who, in Saint-Domingue in 1791, revolted and paved the way for the end of slavery and dehumanization.

Significance of the day:

  • It was on the night of 22 and 23 August 1791, in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that saw the beginning of the uprising that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

  • It is against this background that the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is commemorated on 23 August each year.

  • The Day was first celebrated in a number of countries, particularly in Haiti on 23 August 1998 and at Goree in Senegal on 23 August 1999.

The Slave Route Project:

  • This International Day is intended to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples.

  • In accordance with the goals of the intercultural project "The Slave Route", it should offer an opportunity for collective consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this tragedy, and for an analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.

  • The Director-General of UNESCO invites the Ministers of Culture of all Member States to organize events every year on that date, involving the entire population of their country and in particular young people, educators, artists and intellectuals.

About UNESCO:

  • The full form of UNESCO is United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

  • UNESCO was founded on 6 November 1945.

  • It is a specialized agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture.

  • It is headquartered in Paris, France.

  • The current head of UNESCO is Audrey Azoulay.

India and Maldives:

India and Maldives have recently signed a pact on one of the major connectivity initiatives called “Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP)”.

Key Points:

  • GMCP is the largest infrastructure project in in the Maldives.

  • It is also the biggest new development project by India in its neighbourhood in recent years.

  • The project will be funded by an Indian grant of $100 m and a Line of Credit of $400 m.

  • The USD 400 million LoC will be provided by the Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank).

About the Project:

  • GMCP is the flagship project of President Solih’s presidency and will be an enduring symbol of India-Maldives partnership.

  • The project will be developed by Indian construction and engineering firm, AFCONS, based in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

  • The GMCP comprise of 6.74 km long bridge and causeway link that will connect the national capital Male with three neighbouring islands namely: Villingili, Thilafushi and Gulhifahu.

  • It will be started to connect people, business, and industry.

About Maldives:

  • The Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small island nation in South Asia.

  • It is situated in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean.

  • It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India.

  • The Capital of Maldives is Male.

  • The Currency of the Maldives is Maldivian Rufiyaa.

  • The current President of the Maldives is Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief 2021:

The International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief day is observed on the 22nd of August every year.

Key Points:

  • The day is observed to strongly condemn continuing violence and acts of terrorism targeting individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities, on the basis of or in the name of religion or belief.

  • The day was adopted at the 73rd UN General Assembly on 28 May 2019 as proposed by Poland.

  • The main purpose of this day is to create awareness among people to attain justice for the survivors of past abuses.

  • It is the duty of every government in the world that must take the right decision to ‘never again’ tolerate genocide or other atrocities.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

  • Freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association are enshrined in articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Women's Equality Day:

The day is observed on 26th august every year.

Key Points:

  • It is observed primarily in the US on August 26, to commemorate American women getting the constitutional right to vote.

  • The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was adopted in 1920.

  • The law prohibits denying citizens, of the United States, the right to vote on the basis of gender.

  • Women's Equality Day is now often observed across the world to encourage and spread awareness about women's empowerment.

  • Some of the other Western states in 1910 began to give women the right to vote.

  • Also, several Eastern and Southern states refused to give women the right to vote.

History of Women's Equality Day:

  • Women carried out a protest regarding the right to opportunity and social status.

  • It began in 1848 with a peaceful protest in New York.

  • But in 1971, United States Congress Representative Bella Abzug introduced a bill with a nationwide ‘ strike for equality ' with a day completely dedicated to women’s rights known as Women’s Equality Day.

  • The strike was based on the following three goals:

  1. Free abortion on demand

  2. Equal opportunity for working

  3. Free childcare.

  • Finally, in 1973, the 37th President of the United States, Richard Nixon, along with the United States Congress declared August 26 as Women's Equality Day.

  • So, on 26 August, 1920, women's right to vote became a part of the US constitution.

Significance:

  • The day plays a significant role in celebrating the achievements of women in various sectors.

  • There has always been a difference in pay disparity, abortion rights, equality opportunities, gender-based violence, and discrimination compared with males.

  • This day not only marks the commemoration of the of the 19th Amendment of the US Constitution but it also acknowledges the important achievements made by women in various fields that were once designated only for men.

Ismail Sabri Yaakob:Ismail Sabri Yaakob has been appointed as the new Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Highlights:

  • Before his appointment as the PM, he was the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia.

  • He will succeed Muhyiddin Yassin, who resigned from the post after losing majority support in the lower house of parliament.

  • The appointment of Yaakob was done by Malaysia’s King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.

About Malasia:

  • It is a Southeast Asian country occupying parts of the Malay Peninsula and the island of Borneo.

  • The capital of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur.

  • The currency used here is Malaysian ringgit.

  • The current King of Malasia is Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.

G20 Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment:

The Union Minister of Women & Child Development, Smriti Irani, on August 26, 2021, addressed the First ever G20 Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment.

Highlights:

  • The conference was held at Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy in a hybrid format.

Note: Hybrid format means people participated in physical form and via video conference also.

  • It was chaired by the Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities and Family Elena Bonetti.

About the G20 Conference on Women Empowerment:

  • G20 Conference acknowledged the common objectives and shared responsibilities to advance the goals of equality and development of women and girls in all spheres including STEM, Financial and Digital Literacy, Environment and Sustainability.

  • The main focus of this conference is:

  • Policies to enhance women's talents and skills.

  • Access to better quallity jobs for women.

  • Increasing women's representation in leadership.

  • Definition and protection of women's rights.

  • Tackling gender-based violence.

  • The results of the discussions will be collected by the Italian Presidency and will be brought to the attention of the G20 leaders ahead of the 2021 Rome summit which will be held on 30-31st October 2021.

  • Smt. Irani while addressing the meet on behalf of India reaffirmed India’s commitment towards addressing gender and women-centric issues through mutual cooperation.

  • She also highlighted several initiatives undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government in India towards bringing gender equality, strengthening women’s safety & security and ensuring better healthcare.

About G20:

  • The G20 means the Group of Twenty.

  • It is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union (EU).

  • The membership of the G20 consists of 19 individual countries plus the European Union.

  • The members of the G20 group are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU).

  • The EU is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank. It was established on 26 September 1999 with an aim to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.

  • The objective of G20 is to unite world leaders around shared economic, political and health challenges.

  • The current Chairman of G20 is Mario Draghi (2021).

Note: In 1999, in the wake of the 1997 economic crisis, the G7 Finance Ministers announced the creation of the “Group of 20”, aimed at including other countries in their discussions related to global economics and finance.

The first official meeting of the G20 was held in Berlin in December that same year.

Current International Events - August 2021

Taliban Takeover:

Afghanistan, the mountainous landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia, has witnessed a disastrous Taliban takeover.

Key Details:

  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, on 15th August 2021 after fleeing the country had stated that the Taliban had won.

  • The militants entered Kabul, sealing a nationwide military victory in just 10 days which is nearly 20 years after they were ousted from power by a US-led invasion.

  • He will shortly tender his resignation, as the government has surrendered to the Taliban forces, which entered Kabul and sought the unconditional surrender of the central government.

  • A new interim government has been announced, which is likely to be headed by Ali Ahamd Jalali, a US-based academic.

  • Nations such as the US, UK, Germany and Canada are using their troops to evacuate their nationals from Afghanistan.

  • American diplomats were flown by helicopter to the airport from their embassy in the fortified Wazir Akbar Khan district.

  • The insurgents' imminent takeover triggered fear and panic in Kabul among residents fearful of the group's hardline brand of Islam, which it imposed during its 1996-2001 rule.

  • According to the latest updates, all the provincial capitals such as Zaranj, Sheberghan, Sar-e-Pul, Kunduz, Taloqan, Aybak, Pul-e-Khumri, Faizabad, Ghazni, Firus Koh, Qala-e-Naw, Kandahar, Lashkar Gah, Herat, Pul-e-Alam, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, and Maidan Wardak are now under Taliban control.

Additional Info:

  • Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar is likely to be the new President of Afghanistan.

  • He is the co-founder of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Who are the Taliban?

  • The Taliban is a Deobandi Islamist movement.

  • It is led by young Islamic scholars who are dedicated to the religious purification of the country and the creation of an emirate.

  • Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada is reportedly the leader of the Taliban since 2016.

Afganistan:

  • Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country in Asia.

  • It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north; and China to the northeast.

  • Its Capital is Kabul.

  • The currency used here is Afghan afghani.

Zambia Election:

Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, on August 16, 2021 won the country’s presidential election with a landslide victory over incumbent President Edgar Lungu, stated the Electoral Commission of Zambia.

Key Details:

  • Zambia’s Electoral Commission reported that he got more than 2.8 million votes to President Edgar Lungu’s 1.8 million votes, achieving one of the biggest electoral wins in Zambia’s history.

  • This marks the third shift of power from a ruling party to the opposition since Zambia’s independence from Britain in 1964.

  • Hichilema will become Zambia’s seventh president since the reintroduction of multi-party democracy in 1991 by founding president, the late Kenneth Kaunda, who had ruled the country as a one-party state for more than two decades.

About Hakainde Hichilema:

  • 59 Year old Hakainde Hichilema was born into humble beginnings in the southern district of Monze.

  • He managed to get a scholarship to the University of Zambia, and later graduated with an MBA degree from the University of Birmingham in the UK.

  • He went on to become one of Zambia's richest men, with business interests in finance, ranching, property, healthcare and tourism.

  • He is also a member of the opposition party United Party for National Development in Zambia.

  • He was appointed as the party’s new president after the death of Anderson Mazoka in 2006.

  • Hichilema has been presented with the Africa Freedom Award by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in October 2017.

Zambia Crisis:

  • Hakainde faces dire challenges in reviving the country’s democratic and economic landscape.

  • Zambia is in dire financial straights, and it became the continent's first pandemic-era sovereign default in November after failing to keep up with its international debt payments.

  • Zambia’s economic debt is a major challenge.

  • Under Lungu’s leadership, Zambia’s debt jumped from 36 per cent to 110 per cent of GDP.

  • Among other issues are corruption, executive dominance, and increased violent extortionary by cadres under the Patriotic Front.

About Zambia:

  • Zambia, officially the Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central, Southern and East Africa.

  • Its neighbors are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the southeast, Zimbabwe and Botswana to the south, Namibia to the southwest, and Angola to the west.

  • The capital city of Zambia is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of Zambia.

  • The currency used here is Zambian kwacha.

Note: Apart from its iconic Victoria Falls, the country has a lot of natural water resources compared to other southern African nations.

Remote Sensing Satellite Data Sharing:

BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), on August 18, 2021, signed an agreement for cooperation in remote sensing satellite data sharing, according to Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

Highlights:

  • The BRICS agreement was signed under India's Chairmanship of the bloc.

  • Secretary (Consular, Passport, Visa & Overseas Indian Affairs) & India's BRICS Sherpa, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, Sanjay Bhattacharyya, was present on the occasion.

  • The Director-General of Russia's State Space Corporation Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, signed the agreement along with ISRO Chairman and Secretary in Department of Space, K Sivan, CNSA Administrator Zhang Kejian, CEO of South African National Space Agency, Valanathan Munsami and Brazilian Space Agency President Carlos Augusto Teixeira de Moura.

Significance:

  • The deal will enable building a virtual constellation of specified remote sensing satellites of BRICS space agencies and their respective ground stations will receive the data.

  • It will promote cooperation and use space data and applications for development and social objectives outlined in SDGs, providing benefit to citizens.

  • It will contribute in strengthening multilateral cooperation among BRICS space agencies in meeting the challenges faced by mankind, such as global climate change, major disasters and environmental protection.

About BRICS:

  • It is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies which are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

  • Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010.

  • The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs.

  • All are also the members of G20. Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits. BRICS headquarter is situated at Shanghai, China.

  • BRICS members are known for their influence in regional affairs.

Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin:

The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Muhyiddin Yassin, resigned and his government collapsed on August 15, 2021.

Key Points:

  • He resigned after failing to get majority support just 17 months in office.

  • His tumultuous period in office came to an end after his allies withdrew support making him the shortest-serving premier in the history of Malaysia.

  • The event has thrown a country into fresh political turmoil as Malaysia battles a serious COVID-19 outbreak.

  • The National Palace of Malaysia confirmed that the Monarch, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has accepted Yassin’s resignation.

  • The Palace in a statement informed that Muhyiddin will serve as a caretaker Prime Minister until a replacement is found.

  • The monarch is not yet in the favour of polls due to the outbreak.

Malaysia’s Political background:

  • In 1957, after the independence from the British, the country was ruled for over six decades by a coalition that was dominated by Malaysia’s ethnic Malay Muslim majority.

  • However, corruption scandal, increasingly authoritarian rule, and the unpopular race-based policies prompted the voters to boot the coalition and its leader Najib out of power in 2018.

  • The victory of Mahathir’s opposition alliance had fuelled hopes for a new era, but it collapsed amid the bitter infighting.

About Malasia:

  • It is a Southeast Asian country occupying parts of the Malay Peninsula and the island of Borneo.

  • The capital of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur.

  • The currency used here is Malaysian ringgit.

New Cybersecurity Multi-Donor Trust Fund:

The World Bank has launched a new ‘Cybersecurity Multi-Donor Trust Fund’, to better roll-out cybersecurity development agenda in a systematic manner.

Key Details:

  • The new fund has been developed as an associated trust fund under the broader Digital Development Partnership (DDP) umbrella program.

  • The World Bank, in order to launch the fund, it has partnered with four countries, namely Estonia, Japan, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Aim:

  • The main aim of this new fund is to provide comprehensive cybersecurity capacity development, including the development of global knowledge, country assessments, technical assistance, capacity building, and training, underpinned with necessary investments in infrastructure and technology.

About World Bank:

  • The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans and grants to the governments of poorer countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects.

  • It comprises two institutions which are the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Development Association.

  • It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.

  • It was founded on July 1944 by John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White.

  • Its main aim is providing financing, advice, and research to developing nations to aid their economic advancement.

  • The bank predominantly acts as an organization that attempts to fight poverty by offering developmental assistance to middle- and low-income countries.

  • The current President of World Bank is David Malpass.

World Humanitarian Day 2021:

World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is commemorated annually on August 19, 2021 to honour those who are working for a humanitarian cause across the world.

Highlights:

  • The day is observed to pay tribute to humanitarian personnel and those workers who lost or risked their lives while doing humanitarian service.

  • In 2021 we are celebrating the 12th WHD.

Theme:

  • The theme of World Humanitarian Day is decided every year based on particular humanitarian crisis to raise awareness about it around the world.

  • The theme for 2021 WHD is #TheHumanRace: a global challenge for climate action in solidarity with people who need it the most.

  • The theme aims to put the needs of the most climate-vulnerable people front and centre at the UN climate summit (COP26).

Significance:

  • World Humanitarian Day 2021 seeks to highlight the immediate consequences of the climate emergency for the world’s most vulnerable people and ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are taken up as top agenda at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021.

History:

  • World Humanitarian Day was designated by the United Nations in memory of the August 19, 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 people including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

  • World Humanitarian Day was commemorated for the first time on 19 August 2009, after it was formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009.

Note: Sérgio Vieira de Mello was a Brazilian United Nations diplomat who worked on several UN humanitarian and political programs for over 34 years.

SAGO:

World Health Organization (WHO) has created a new advisory group named, The International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens, or SAGO.

Key Details:

  • The function of SAGO will be to systematically study the emergence of future emerging pathogens with pandemic potential, and advise the development in this regard to WHO.

  • WHO has made an open call for nominations to SAGO from the member countries, thus providing a transparent foundation for the new scientific advisory group.

  • The group will also work towards finding the origin of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

About WHO:

  • WHO is an acronym for World Health Organization?

  • WHO was created on 7 April 1948 by member states of the United Nations (UN) as a specialized agency with a broad mandate for international public health.

  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The main objective of WHO is "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible standard of health."

  • It plays an essential role in the global governance of health and disease.

  • Its mission is to improve people's lives, to reduce the burdens of disease and poverty, and to provide access to responsive health care for all people.

  • The WHO is governed by two decision-making bodies, the World Health Assembly and the Executive Board.

  • The current Director-general of WHO is Tedros Adhanom.

International Day of World's Indigenous Peoples 2021: International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is observed on August 9 every year across the world.

Highlights:

  • This day is also known as World Tribal Day.

  • This day is observed to raise awareness and protect the rights of the world's indigenous population.

  • This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

History:

  • On December 23, 1994, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided that that the International Day of the World's Indigenous People will be observed every year on August 9.

  • On the same date in 1982, the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights had convened its first meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

Objective:

  • The main objective of the First International Decade was to solidify international cooperation to solve problems in the areas, including human rights, the environment, development, education, health culture, economic and social development, the environment, and human rights.

  • The focus is mostly to strengthen international cooperation on solving problems of the indigenous population globally.

Significance:

  • The day serves as a reminder to all of us that we need to do much more than what we have done so far for indigenous people.

  • On this day, UNESCO considers the multiple challenges indigenous people face for their sustainability.

  • Worldwide, people are encouraged to spread the United Nations' message of protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous people.

Theme of 2021:

  • The theme for this year's International Day of Indigenous Peoples is “Leaving no one behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract”.

Events 2021:

  • The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) organized a virtual commemoration for speakers.

  • The event featured an interactive session with two speakers.

  • The discussion focused on the distinct elements which should be considered while building and redesigning a fresh social contract inclusive of indigenous peoples.

Facts About indigenous people:

  • As per an estimate by the United Nations, nearly 476 million indigenous people live in 90 countries across the world.

  • They account for 6.2 per cent of the world's total population.

  • They are spread across 90 countries and representing 5,000 different cultures.

Indigenous Tribes in India:

  • The central tribal belt which comprises the Northeastern states of India claims to have the maximum concentration of indigenous population. Here are a few of them.

Great Andamanese Tribes:

  • This group occupies the regions of Strait Island and some parts of Rutland Island.

  • It consists of Onge, Jarawa, Jangil and Sentinelese, who are the first inhabitants of the island and paint their faces, bodies with clay.

  • These tribes are into chanting while they work and are fond of communicating with big, colourful pigeons in the forest.

The Jarawa Tribe:

  • The Jarava Tribe lives in the pristine islands of Andaman and Nicobar.

  • It is one of the oldest tribes of India. With a scanty population of almost 420, they are almost on the verge of extinction.

  • They live along the western coast of the south and middle Andaman Islands.

  • Mostly hunters and gatherers, they are dependent on terrestrial and aquatic resources.

  • They had inhabited the islands almost 60,000 years ago.

Bhils:

  • Till 2013, Bhils were the largest tribal group in India, known to have a rich, distinctive culture.

  • They are an Indo-Aryan speaking ethnic group in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra; the western Deccan region.

Gond Tribes:

  • Mostly spotted in Bastar highland regions of Southern Chhattisgarh, there are three important Gond tribes- Muria, the Bisonhorn Maria, and the Hill Maria.

  • Raj Gond is known to be the most developed in the Gond tribes.

Santhal Tribes:

  • The Santhal tribes are the major tribes of West Bengal and are mostly seen in the districts of Bankura and Purulia.

  • They are also widely seen in parts of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Assam.

  • The Santhals are largely dependent on agriculture and livestock; further, they are well versed in the art of hunting.

11th Annual meeting FEMBoSA: The 11th Annual meeting of the Forum of the Election Management Bodies of South Asia (FEMBoSA) was inaugurated by Chief Election Commissioner of India & Chairman of FEMBoSA, Sushil Chandra for the year 2021.

Key Points:

The meeting in Virtual mode was hosted by the Election Commission of Bhutan.

FEMBoSA meeting was held under the theme of ‘Use of Technology in Elections’.

The delegations from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka along with India participated in the meeting.

The Chairmanship of FEMBoSA was virtually handed over by Sushil Chandra, CEC, as the outgoing Chair of FEMBoSA to Dasho Sonam Topgay, Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan.

On behalf of Election Commission of Bhutan, H.E. Major General Vetsop Namgyel, Ambassador of Bhutan to India accepted FEMBoSA Logo from Shri Sushil Chandra for Election Commission of Bhutan assuming the role of new Chair of FEMBoSA 2021-22.

Note: Logo of FEMBoSA with golden pearls stands for eternal values of democracy, transparency, impartiality and cooperation.

About 11th Annual meeting of FEMBoSA:

  • The Thimphu Resolution was unanimously adopted by the FEMBoSA members at this meeting to extend the tenure of the chairmanship to two years during the current pandemic situation.

  • At the meet, Sushil Chandra highlighted that the ECI has digitized many processes by keeping pace with rapid strides of Technology.

  • Technology driven processes have become more important during the Covid 19 situation as it is helping in minimizing person-to-person contact.

About FEMBoSA:

  • The full form of FEMBoSA is Forum of the Election Management Bodies of South Asia.

  • FEMBoSA was established at the 3rd Conference of Heads of Election Management Bodies of SAARC Countries held at New Delhi in 2012.

  • The annual FEMBoSA meeting is held by rotation among the members.

  • Besides ECI, the other 7 members are EMBs from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

  • The objectives of the Forum are as follows:

  • To promote contact among the EMBs of the SAARC countries.

  • To share experiences with a view to learning from each other.

  • To cooperate with one another in enhancing the capabilities of the EMBs towards conducting free and fair elections.

International Youth Day: The International Youth Day (YID) is observed on August 12 annually across the globe.

Highlights:

  • The day is observed to draw the attention of governments and others towards youth issues worldwide.

  • This day is also celebrated to recognize the efforts put in by the youth for the betterment of society.

Aim:

  • The Day aims to promote the ways to engage the youth and make them more actively involved in their communities through positive contributions.

Theme of International Youth Day 2021:

  • The theme of International Youth Day 2021, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”.

  • This year's theme highlights the crucial need for "inclusive support mechanisms that ensure youth continue to amplify efforts collectively and individually to restore the planet and protect life while integrating biodiversity in the transformation of food systems."

World Youth Day in India:

  • Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, on the occassion of World Youth Day, launched the first phase of the awareness campaign for HIV, TB and Blood Donation.

History of International Youth Day:

  • The International Youth Day (IYD) was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by passing resolution 54/120 in December 1999.

  • The General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.

  • This day was observed on August 12, 2000, for the first time.

  • The day is celebrated through various awareness campaigns, community concerts, and events to bring to notice the socio-economic and socio-political issues that the youth in every nation face.

About UNGA:

  • It refers to the United Nations General Assembly. UNGA is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations.

  • It is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 193 Member States of the UN, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of international issues including peace and security.

  • It was formed in 1985.

  • It is headquartered in New York, New York, United States.

  • The current President of UNGA is Abdulla Shahid.

UN Security Council Open Debate: Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi recently chaired the High-level Open Debate on 'Enhancing Maritime Security – A Case for International Cooperationt' via video conferencing.

Highlights:

  • With this, Prime Minister Modi, has become the first Indian Prime Minister to preside over a UN Security Council Open Debate.

Note: India had assumed the Presidency of the UNSC for August 2021, taking over from France.

  • The heads of state or government in attendance, included Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and Premier of Vietnam Pham Minh Chinh.

  • The UNSC adopted a ‘Presidential [India’s] Statement’ which reaffirmed that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) establishes the legal framework for maritime activities.

Key Points:

  • The Open Debate focused on ways to effectively counter maritime crime and insecurity and strengthened coordination in the maritime domain.

  • India will organize two more meetings during its presidency, on peacekeeping and counterterrorism.

  • During the debate, PM Modi also underlined five principles that need to be followed in terms of maritime trade and security, which included:

Free maritime trade sans barriers:

  • The first was removing barriers to maritime trade.

  • PM Modi put forward the vision of SAGAR - an acronym for ‘Security and Growth for all in the Region’, which provides a framework for a safe and stable maritime domain in the region.

  • “SAGAR” is a 2015 Indian framework for regional maritime security.

Peaceful settlement of maritime disputes:

  • The Second was that maritime disputes should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law,” as this was “extremely important for promoting mutual trust and confidence, and ensuring global peace and stability.”

Combating maritime threats:

  • The third principle Mr Modi proposed was that countries jointly tackle maritime threats from non-state actors and natural disasters.

Preserving maritime environment and resources:

  • The Fourth was that the maritime environment and marine resources needed to be conserved, highlighting pollution from plastic waste and oil spills.

Encouraging responsible maritime connectivity:

  • The fifth was that there was a need for responsible maritime connectivity.

  • A structure was required to boost maritime trade, with the development of global norms and standards.

Background:

In 2019, at the East Asia Summit, this initiative was further elaborated through the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI) with a focus on seven pillars of maritime security including

  1. Maritime Ecology

  2. Maritime Resources

  3. Capacity Building and Resource Sharing

  4. Disaster Risk Reduction and Management

  5. Science, Technology and Academic Cooperation

  6. Trade Connectivity and

  7. Maritime Transport.

Mohammad Mokhber: The new President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi recently named Mohammad Mokhber who is the chairman of a powerful state-owned foundation sanctioned by the United States as his first vice-president.

Key Points:

  • Mohammad Mokhber has for years headed the foundation known as Setad or the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s order.

  • He was appointed to the position by the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2007.

  • The Setad was originally founded in the late 1980s to manage confiscated properties following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

About Iran:

  • Iran also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Western Asia.

  • It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan,to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq.

  • Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance.

  • The capital of Iran is Tehran.

  • The currency used there is Iranian Rial.

  • The current President of Iran is Ebrahim Raisi.

India UNSC Presidency: India, on 1 August 2021 assumed the rotational presidency of the 15-nation United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the month of August.

Highlights:

  • India took over the presidency from France.

  • India, flagging off its tenure, thanked France, its immediate predecessor in the position, for leading the Council in July.

  • This is India's first UNSC presidency during its 2021-22 tenure as a non-permanent member of the UNSC.

  • India began its two-year tenure as a non-permanent member of the UNSC on January 1, 2021.

  • This is India's tenth tenure.

  • So far it has been President of the body nine times: June 1950, September 1967, December 1972, October 1977, February 1985, October 1991, December 1992, August 2011, and November 2012.

Key Focus Areas During India UNSC Presidency:

  • S. Tirumurti India’s permanent representative to the UN, on 2nd August 2021, will hold a press conference on the Security Council’s work plan for the month.

  • During its presidency, India is set to organize key events in three major areas of maritime security, peacekeeping and counter-terrorism.

  • Maritime security is India’s top priority, and it is important for the Security Council to take a holistic approach to this issue.

  • India is particularly focused on using better technology to ensure the safety of peacekeepers and how to bring perpetrators of crimes against peacekeepers to justice.

  • India, as a leading country in the fight against terrorism will continue to focus on the fight against terrorism.

  • India will decide the agenda of the UN’s highest decision making body whose resolutions and directives are binding on all member states.

  • India will also coordinate important meetings on a range of issues during August.

  • India will also be organizing an event in memory of peacekeepers.

  • India along with Pakistan and Bangladesh is one of the top contributors to UN peacekeeping operations with men and material.

Additional Info:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the first Indian PM to preside over a meeting during India's UNSC presidency.

  • This was informed by India's former envoy to UN Syed Akbaruddin.

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla will also chair high-level meetings on topics of global importance during India's UNSC presidency term.

  • It was in 1992 when the then PM PV Narasimha Rao who had attended a UNSC meeting was engaged in this effort.

About UNSC:

  • UNSC is an abbreviation for United Nations Security Council.

  • It is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations.

  • It is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security.

  • The Security Council comprises of 15 members out of which five members are permanent and 10 are non-permanent members elected for a period of two years.

  • Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

  • It is headquartered in New York, United States.

  • It was founded on 24 October 1945.

  • Its function includes the establishment of peacekeeping operations and international sanctions as well as the authorization of military actions through resolutions.

  • It is the only body of the United Nations (UN) with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

  • The council held its first session on 17 January 1946.

Myanmar coup: Six months after seizing power from the elected government Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing declared himself Prime Minister of Myanmar on August 1, 2021.

Key Points:

  • The leader announced that he would occupy the position for two more years during an extended state of emergency in the country.

  • He promised multi-party elections as well as the lifting of the state of emergency by August 2023.

  • The announcement comes six months after Myanmar’s democratically elected government was overthrown in a military coup, sparking waves of protests throughout the country.

About Min Aung Hlaing:

  • Min Aung Hlaing (born 3 July 1956) is a Burmese army general.

  • He has served as Chairman of the State Administration Council of Myanmar, a position which makes him the country's de facto leader, from 2 February 2021 to 1 August 2021.

  • He has also been the commander-in-chief of Defence Services since March 2011.

  • He seized power after overthrowing the elected government led by former State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi in the 2021 Myanmar coup d'état.

  • He reimposed military rule and martial law, ending a nearly ten-year period of civilian rule from March 2011 to February 2021.

  • He served as Joint Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Defence from 2010 to 2011. He is also a member of the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) chaired by the president of Myanmar.

  • He was promoted to the ranks of four-star general in 2011 and five-star general in 2013.

Background:

  • Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by the armed forces from 1962 until 2011, when a new government began ushering in a return to civilian rule.

  • Aung San Suu Kyi spent nearly 15 years in detention between 1989 and 2010.

  • She was internationally hailed as a beacon of democracy and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

  • However, her international reputation suffered severely following an army crackdown on the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority.

  • Former supporters accused her of refusing to condemn the military or acknowledge accounts of atrocities.

  • Myanmar’s military overthrew its democratically elected National League for Democracy government in February, claiming that election held in November 2020 was fraudulent.

  • The state of emergency was declared when troops moved against the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, 2021; an action the generals said was permitted under the military-authored 2008 constitution.

  • The military claimed her landslide victory in last year's national elections was achieved through massive voter fraud but offered no credible evidence.

  • She was arrested and has since been charged with multiple crimes, including illegally possessing walkie-talkie radios and violating Covid-19 rules.

  • Her trial resumed on Aug. 2, as per media reports.

  • As protests continue to intensify in the country against the military coup, 940 people have been confirmed to be killed since the military takeover on February 1, 2021.

About Myanmar:

  • Myanmar (formerly Burma) officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeast Asia with more than 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand.

  • It is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos and Thailand to its east and southeast, and the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal to its south and southwest.

  • Its capital city is Naypyidaw, and its largest city is Yangon (Rangoon).

  • The currency used here is Myanmar kyat.

Ebrahim Raisi: Ebrahim Raisi, on August 05, 2021, was officially sworn in as the new president of Iran.

Key Points:

  • The 60-year-old Raisi won the 2021 Iranian presidential election in June, with 62 per cent of the vote.

  • Hardline cleric Raisi took over from moderate Hassan Rouhani, whose landmark achievement during his two-term presidency was the 2015 agreement between the Islamic Republic and six world powers.

  • With Raisi's presidency, all branches of power in Iran will be controlled by anti-Western hardliners loyal to Khamenei.

  • He is also been the Chief Justice of Iran since March 2019.

Iran Crisis:

  • Iran has been grappling with a deep economic and social crisis following former US president Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw the United States (US) from the deal in 2018 and reimpose crushing sanctions.

  • Tensions in the region are also high following a string of maritime provocations blamed by the West on Tehran.

About Iran:

  • Iran also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Western Asia.

  • It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq.

  • Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance.

  • The capital of Iran is Tehran.

  • The currency used there is Iranian Rial.

  • The current President of Iran is Ebrahim Raisi.

Hiroshima Day 2021: Hiroshima Day is observed every year on August 6 to promote peace politics and raise awareness of the effects of the bomb attack on Hiroshima.

Key Points:

  • The 6th of August marks the anniversary of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima during World War II.

  • Year 2021 is the 76th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese city.

  • An annual event takes place at the Galway Alliance War in Eyre Square marking the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States in 1945.

History:

  • The Manhattan Project, commissioned by the US, created two atomic bombs.

  • The first one, called 'The Little Boy' was dropped in the city of Hiroshima while the second one, dubbed 'The Fat Man', was dropped in Nagasaki by the US on August 6 and 9, respectively.

  • On August 6, 1945, an American B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. The bombing killed nearly 80,000 people instantly and tens of thousands more died later of radiation exposure.

  • This was the first time an atomic bomb was used. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

  • This killed another 40,000 people.

  • These two bombings forced Japan to announce on August 15 that it was surrendering unconditionally during World War II.

Significance:

  • This day plays a significant role as it focuses on anti-war and anti-nuclear demonstrations in many countries.

  • The day also reminds the world about the need for “peace politics” to avoid any more world wars and destruction.

  • Several people also take the time to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on this day, which documents the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in World War II.

CPLP: Minister for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi said that India in July 2021 has joined the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) as Associate Observer.

Significance:

  • This sets a new platform for strengthening India’s historic bonds of friendship with Lusophone countries.

  • The move will help in pursuing cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

  • It will further enrich and strengthen India’s ties with the Portuguese speaking world.

About CPLP:

  • The Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) is also known as the Lusophone Commonwealth.

  • It is an international organization and political association of Lusophone nations across four continents, where Portuguese is an official language.

  • It was founded on July 17, 1996, in Lisbon.

  • It is headquartered in Lisbon, Portugal.

Members:

  • The CPLP consists of 9 member states and 32 associate observers, located in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania, totaling 37 countries and 4 organizations.

  • There are nine full member states of the CPLP.

  • Among them 7 were founding members of the CPLP. They are Angola, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, and São Tomé and Príncipe.

  • Timor-Leste joined in 2002.

  • Equatorial Guinea joined in 2014.

About Lusophones:

  • Lusophones are peoples and nations that comprise an estimated 270 million people spread across 10 sovereign states and territories that recognize Portuguese as an official language.

  • This area is known as Lusofonia or the Lusophone world (Mundo Lusófono).

Nikol Pashinyan: The President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian, on 2nd August 2021, re-appointed Nikol Pashinyan as the Prime Minister of Armenia.

Highlights:

  • The leader of the Civil Contract Party won the majority of seats in parliamentary elections in June 2021.

  • Prior to this, the 46-year-old Pashinyan had served as the prime minister in 2018.

  • He belongs to Civil Contract Party and serving as leader of the party.

About Nikol Pashinyan:

  • Nikol Vovayi Pashinyan is a politician from Armenia country and is serving as the prime minister of Armenia since 8 May 2018.

  • He is also a journalist by profession.

  • In 1998, he founded his own newspaper.

  • He has faced one year for defamation against then Minister of National Security Serzh Sargsyan.

About Armenia:

  • Armenia, officially the Republic of Armenia, is a landlocked country located in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.

  • It is a part of the Caucasus region.

  • It is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the Lachin corridor under a Russian peacekeeping force and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.

  • Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage.

  • The capital is Yerevan (Erevan).

  • The currency used here is Armenian dram.

Najib Mikati: Billionaire businessman Najib Mikati on July 26, 2021, became Lebanon’s new Prime Minister.

Highlights:

  • He ran virtually unopposed, receiving 72 votes while the former ambassador Nawaf Salam received only one vote.

  • Forty-two MPs voted blank, and three MPs did not vote at all.

  • With the cooperation of the President Michel Aoun he will form a government according to the French initiative.

Key Facts about Najib Mikati:

  • Mikati is a Lebanese politician and businessman who has served as caretaker PM of Lebanon in 2005 and headed a full-scale government from 2011 to 2014.

  • He has been the co-owner of a multi-billion conglomerate the M1 Group.

  • He has also been named the richest man in Lebanon in 2021 by Forbes.

  • This will be Mikati’s third time serving as the Prime Minister of the country.

  • In April 2005, he had briefly served as the caretaker PM and in 2011, he had headed a full-scale government for 3 years.

  • His appointment comes just 11 days after Saad Hariri resigned as prime minister-designate, following nine months of political deadlock and dispute with President Aoun and his son-in-law MP Gebran Bassil.

  • He received support from most political parties in Lebanon, including Amal Movement, the Future Movement, Marada Movement, Hezbollah, and Progressive Socialist Party.

Lebanon Crisis:

  • Lebanon’s economy continues to crumble with half the population living below the poverty line and a spiralling local currency that lost more than 90 per cent of its value.

  • The country has been without a full-fledged government for almost one year and is struggling to reform its economy to unlock international aid.

About Lebanon:

  • Lebanon, officially known as the Republic of Lebanon, is a country in Western Asia.

  • It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, while Cyprus lies west across the Mediterranean Sea.

  • It is situated by the Lebanon Mountains and has taken on a triangular shape.

  • It is largely influenced by its situation between and atop two hills: Al-Musaytibah and Al-Ashrafieh.

  • The capital of Lebanon is Beirut.

  • The currency used here is Lebanese pound.

  • The current President of Lebanon is Michel Aoun.

BRICS Counter Terrorism Working Group: The 6th meeting of the BRICS Counter Terrorism Working Group was held virtually on 28th and 29th of July under the Chairmanship of India.

Key Details:

  • The main outcome of the Working Group meeting was the finalisation of the BRICS Counter Terrorism Action Plan containing specific measures to implement the BRICS Counter Terrorism Strategy adopted by BRICS Leaders in 2020.

  • The Action Plan is aimed at further strengthening result oriented cooperation between BRICS countries in areas such as preventing and combating terrorism, radicalisation, financing of terrorism, misuse of internet by terrorists, and curbing travel of terrorists.

  • The plan is one of the key deliverables during India’s Chairship of BRICS and will be adopted at the meeting of BRICS National Security Advisors scheduled next month.

About BRICS:

  • It is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies which are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

  • Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010.

  • The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs. All are also the members of G20.

  • Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.

  • BRICS headquarter is situated at Shanghai, China.

  • BRICS members are known for their influence in regional affairs.

Sweden Joins ISA: Sweden has confirmed the framework agreement for the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and its membership to officially join the Gurugram-based global platform on 17 July 2021, in order to promote renewable energy and sustainable development.

About International Solar Alliance (ISA):

  • ISA is an alliance of 121 countries.

  • It was initiated by India.

  • Most of member countries are sunshine countries located completely or partly between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

  • It is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization.

  • ISA is the largest grouping of states, after United Nations.

Objective of ISA:

  • ISA was established with the objective of working for efficient consumption of solar energy in a bid to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Background:

  • ISA initiative was first proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech in November 2015 at Wembley Stadium.

  • During his speech, he referred the sunshine countries as Suryaputra.

Who can join ISA?

  • ISA is primarily an alliance of countries lying between Tropics.

  • However, countries which do not fall within the Tropics can join alliance and enjoy all benefits as other members, except the voting

About Sweden:

  • Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden is a Nordic country in Northern Europe.

  • It is a Scandinavian nation with thousands of coastal islands and inland lakes, along with vast boreal forests and glaciated mountains.

  • It borders Norway to the west and north, Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund Strait.

  • The capital city is Stockholm.

  • The currency used here is Swedish krona.

Fun Fact:

  • The name Sweden was derived from the Svear, or Suiones, a people mentioned as early as 98 CE by the Roman author Tacitus.

  • The country’s ancient name was Svithiod. Stockholm has been the permanent capital since 1523.

Guido Bellido: Peruvian President Pedro Castillo on 29th July 2021, has appointed Guido Bellido as prime minister of the country.

He is a congressman and is a member of the Free Peru party, with which Castillo won the presidency this year in the Andean nation..

About Peru:

  • Peru officially the Republic of Peru is a country in western South America.

  • It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the west by the Pacific Ocean.

  • It is a home to a section of Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city high in the Andes Mountains.

  • The region around Machu Picchu, including the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail and colonial city of Cusco, is rich in archaeological sites.

  • The capital of Peru is Lima.

  • The currency used here is Peruvian Sol.

International Day of Friendship day 2021: International Day of Friendship day is celebrated on July 30 every year across the world.

Key Points:

  • This day is also known as World Friendship Day.

  • In India, Friendship Day is observed on the first Sunday of August.

  • This year the Friendship Day falls on 1st August 2021.

  • The day highlights the powerful tie of friendship that exists between two or more individuals regardless of caste, creed, or color.

History:

  • UNESCO proposed this day to observe and UN General Assembly adopted this proposal in 1997.

  • In 2011 the UN General Assembly proclaimed the day and July 30 became officially recognised as International Friendship Day.

  • This day was first proposed in 1958 in Paraguay. However, it is known to have originated in 1930 from Hallmark cards, by Joyce Hall.

World Ranger Day 2021: World Ranger Day is observed every year on 31 July to commemorate the Rangers killed or injured while on duty.

Highlights:

  • The day also recognizes the work that Rangers do to protect the world’s natural and cultural heritage.

  • This day marks the foundation day of International Ranger Federation (IRF).

  • IRF was founded on 31 July 1992.

Theme of 2021:

  • The theme of 2021 is "Rangers Safety and Wellbeing."

History:

  • World Ranger Day was created by the International Ranger Federation.

  • In 2007, the first World Ranger Day was observed on the occasion of the 15th-anniversary of IRF.

Who is a Ranger?

  • A Ranger is a person tasked with preserving and protecting parklands and natural protected areas.

  • A Ranger typically refers to a forest ranger or a park ranger.

Sitio Burle Marx: The Sitio Burle Marx site, a landscape garden in Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro has recently been added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.

  • About:

  • The garden features more than 3,500 species of plants native to Rio.

  • It is considered a laboratory for botanical and landscape experimentation.

  • The site has been named after Burle Marx, a Brazilian landscape architect whose designs of parks and gardens made him world-famous.

  • The Sitio Burle Marx site was his home until 1985.

  • The garden is characterized by sinuous forms, exuberant mass planting, architectural plant arrangements, dramatic colour contrasts, use of tropical plants, and the incorporation of elements of traditional folk culture.

About Brazil:

  • Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America.

  • Brazil is the world's fifth-largest and sixth-most populous country, composed of 26 states and the Federal District.

  • It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas.

  • Brazil is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and it covers roughly half of South America's landmass and borders all other countries in the continent, except Ecuador and Chile.

  • Its Amazon basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats.

  • This unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of the seventeen megadiverse countries.

  • The capital of Brazil is Brasilia.

  • The currency used here is Brazilian real.

Paseo del Prado and Retiro Park: The historic Paseo del Prado boulevard and Retiro Park of Madrid, in Spain, has recently been granted the status of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

With this announcement the total number of World Heritage Sites in Spain goes up to 49 which is the third-highest globally only after Italy and China.

About Buen Retiro Park:

  • Buen Retiro Park is a green refuge with a total area 118 hectares.

  • The park is located just at the centre of the capital city.

  • The iconic Retiro Park, just adjoining with Paseo del Prado is one of the most visited attractions in Madrid’s history.

About Paseo Del Prado:

  • The wide tree-lined Paseo del Prado located in the centre of the Spanish capital.

  • The Paseo del Prado Boulevard features six museums, the famous Plaza de Cibeles square and the famous Fuente de Cibeles fountain.

About Spain:

  • Spain, formally the Kingdom of Spain is a country in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of territory in Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar and offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

  • It occupies about 85 percent of the Iberian Peninsula, which it shares with its smaller neighbour Portugal.

  • Spain is a storied country of stone castles, snowcapped mountains, vast monuments, and sophisticated cities, all of which have made it a favoured travel destination.

  • Spain's capital and largest city is Madrid.

  • The currency used here is Euro.

Current International Events - July 2021

Nelson Mandela International Day 2021: International Nelson Mandela Day is observed on 18 July every year, on the birth anniversary of the former South African President.

Key Points:

  • The day celebrates Mandela's life and legacy in a sustainable way that will bring about the needful changes.

  • This day is celebrated in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.

  • The day aims to encourage everyone to take action and inspire change in the world.

  • This year marks the 103rd birth anniversary of Nelson Mandela.

Mandela Day 2021 Theme

  • The theme of Mandela Day 2021 is “One Hand Can Feed Another”. The theme highlights the importance of governments and citizens working together to build a peaceful, sustainable and equitable world for all.

Mandela Day History:

  • The UN General Assembly declared July 18th as Nelson Mandela International day in 2009.

  • The day aims to recognize Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity in various areas including race, gender equality, conflict resolution, promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups.

  • The day also aims to highlight Mandela's fight for social justice, fight against poverty and his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.

  • Nelson Mandela had devoted his entire life to the service of humanity, as a human rights lawyer who opposed the apartheid system in South Africa as well as an international peacemaker.

  • He was the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.

Nelson Mandela prize:

  • The United Nations General Assembly introduced the Nelson Mandela prize in 2014 to recognise the achievements of those who dedicated their lives to the service of humanity, much like he had in his lifetime.

About Nelson Mandela:

  • Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, statesman and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

  • He was the country's first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election.

  • His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation.

  • Ideologically an African nationalist and socialist, he served as the president of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991 to 1997.

  • Mandela is widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice and is described as the "Father of the Nation" in South Africa.

  • Mandela received over 250 honours.

  • He was honoured with the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his extensive work on social reforms.

  • In 1962, he was arrested and imprisoned and sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state.

  • He served nearly 27 years in prison before being released in 1990.

  • His efforts to end the apartheid system resulted in the first multiracial general election in South Africa in 1994, which his African National Congress (ANC) party won.

Pedro Castillo: Peruvian Socialist candidate Pedro Castillo has been named as the country's next president by Peru's electoral authority.

Highlights:

  • He officially won the June 6 runoff against right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori.

  • A 51-year-old former school teacher and the son of peasant farmers, Castillo has pledged to redraft the constitution and hike taxes on mining firms.

About Peru:

  • Peru officially the Republic of Peru is a country in western South America.

  • It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the west by the Pacific Ocean.

  • It is a home to a section of Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city high in the Andes Mountains.

  • The region around Machu Picchu, including the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail and colonial city of Cusco, is rich in archaeological sites.

  • Peru is the world's second-largest copper-producing nation.

  • The capital of Peru is Lima.

  • The currency used here is Peruvian Sol.

New Haiti PM: Ariel Henry, amid the political turmoil caused by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, on 20 July 2021 was appointed as the new Prime Minister of Haiti.

Key Points:

  • He was sworn in as Haiti’s new Prime Minister, nearly two weeks after the assassination of the President Jovenel Moise.

  • The late president asked Henry to take the job, days before he was gunned down at his home on July 7th 2021 in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

  • Henry will lead the nation until a new President is chosen in an election scheduled for September.

  • His appointment as the new PM of Haiti has been backed by the United States, Germany and the United Nations.

  • He faces a country wracked by poverty, crime, long-term political instability and natural disasters, including hurricanes and a major earthquake.

About Ariel Henry:

  • Ariel Henry (age-71) is a Haitian politician and a neurosurgeon.

  • He was the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor of Haiti (2011–2016).

  • He entered politics as a leader of Democratic Convergence movement which sought to topple President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was accused of rigging the 2000 Haitian parliamentary election.

Assassination of President Jovenel Moise:

  • President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated by unidentified gunmen on 7 July 2021.

  • He was shot dead while his wife got injured in an attack on their home in the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

  • However, the assassination of President Jovenel Moise still remains a mystery.

  • As of now, the Haitian police have reported that at least 26 people have been arrested so far that includes local police officers, Haitian-americans and Colombians.

About Haiti:

  • Haiti officially the Republic of Haiti, formerly known as Hayti, is a Caribbean country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and Jamaica and south of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

  • It occupies the western three-eighths of the island which it shares with the Dominican Republic.

  • The capital of Haiti is Port-au-Prince.

  • The currency used here is Haitian gourde.

3D-Printed Steel Pedestrian Bridge: The world’s first 3D-printed steel pedestrian bridge has recently been unveiled in Amstradam.

Highlights:

  • The bridge was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, who used a robotic arm equipped with scissors to cut the ribbon.

  • It was installed over one of the oldest canals in Amsterdam’s city centre – the Oudezijds Achterburgwal.

  • The bridge is now open for pedestrians and cyclists

About the Bridge:

  • The stainless steel structure has been named the MX3D Smart Bridge.

  • The bridge has been developed by MX3D, a Dutch robotics company, in collaboration with a consortium of experts, and represents a major milestone for 3D-printing technology.

  • It was designed by the Joris Laarman Lab and was first unveiled during the Dutch Design Week in the year 2018.

  • The bridge was created by robotic arms.

  • It is 12 metres long.

  • It is made of 4500kg of stainless steel.

  • It took six months to print.

  • It took four years to develop and make the bridge.

  • This (40-foot) bridge was created using a 3D printing technique called wire and arc additive manufacturing that combines robotics with welding.

  • The robotic arms that made the bridge used welding torches to create the structure layer by layer.

  • Several sensors are attached to the bridge.

  • They will be used to monitor movement, temperature and vibrations across the structure as people go over it.

  • They'll also track how changes in the weather affect the structure.

  • This data will then be sent to a digital model of the bridge.

How will this digital model be used?

  • Engineers will use the digital model on the computer to see at how the bridge is doing and decide whether any changes or maintenance might be needed.

  • It will remain in place for minimum of two years while the previous footbridge which was spread over the canal undergoes renovation.

  • They will also use anything learnt from this model for future 3D steel structures, so they can see what worked well and not so well and apply that to more complicated building projects.

  • Mark Girolami at the University of Cambridge who is working on this digital model said that sometimes any problems with bridge failures are discovered too late, so having this digital model giving constant data feedback means they can spot any problems quicker.

  • During its two-year tenure this bridge will act as a living laboratory and its performance will be analyzed and monitored in real time by researchers from the Alan Turing Institute’s Data-Centric Engineering Programme, Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge.

About Amsterdam:

  • Amsterdam is the Capital of Netherlands.

  • It is also the principal commercial and financial centre of the Netherlands.

Note: Amsterdam is the nominal capital of the Netherlands but not the seat of government, which is The Hague.

  • The City is built on Canals, 165 canals in fact.

  • Amsterdam is colloquially referred to as the "Venice of the North", attributed by the large number of canals which form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • These canals have been around since the 17th century and are still used by locals to get around in low speed boats that take them from place to place.

  • The bridges going over the canals are seemingly endless in number (a little over 1,200 actually).

History:

Amsterdam was founded at the Amstel that was dammed to control flooding; the city's name derives from the Amstel dam.

Originating as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, and became the leading centre for finance and trade.

New Quad Grouping: The United States (US), Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan have recently agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity.

Key Details:

  • According to the Biden administration, the parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing.

  • Recognizing the historic opportunity to open flourishing interregional trade routes, the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links, and strengthen business-to-business ties.

  • The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus.

About:

  • Afghanistan’s strategic location has for a long time been touted as a competitive advantage for the country.

  • Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north, and China to the northeast.

  • Located at the heart of the historic Silk Road, Afghanistan was long the crossroads of commerce between Asian countries connecting them to Europe, and enhancing religious, cultural, and commercial contacts.

Significance for China:

  • The formation of the new quad group is important amid China's desire to extend its Belt Road Initiative (BRI) to Afghanistan.

  • By virtue of its location, Afghanistan can also provide China with a strategic base to spread its influence across the world.

About BRI:

  • The BRI is a multi-billion-dollar initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013.

  • This initiative aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.

China's 600 kph maglev train: China recently unveiled a maglev train capable of a top speed of 600 kph.

Highlights:

  • The maximum speed would make the train, self-developed by China and manufactured in the coastal city of Qingdao, the fastest ground vehicle globally.

  • Using electromagnetic force, the maglev train “levitates” above the track with no contact between body and rail.

  • China has been using the technology for almost two decades on a very limited scale.

  • Shanghai has a short maglev line running from one of its airports to town.

About the train:

  • Shanghai has a short maglev line running from one of its airports to town.

  • At 600 kph, it would only take 2.5 hours to travel from Beijing to Shanghai by train – a journey of more than 1,000 km.

  • Launched in October 2016, the high-speed maglev train project saw the development of a magnetic-levitation train prototype with a designed top speed of 600 km per hour in 2019 and conducted a successful test run in June 2020.

About China:

  • China, officially the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia.

  • It is governed by the Communist Party of China. It is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, the People's Liberation Army, and the second-largest defense budget.

  • The capital of China is Beijing. The currency used here is Yuan (CNY) and Renminbi (RMB).

  • The yuan is the unit of account of the country's economic and financial system while Renminbi is the official currency of China where it acts as a medium of exchange.

  • The current President of china is Xi Jinping.

Northern Ireland Protocol: The UK government recently said that it wants urgent changes made to the Brexit agreement known as the Northern Ireland Protocol as it could create so many problems that it might have to be abandoned if it cannot be rewritten.

Northern Ireland Protocol is a Brexit treaty on Northern Ireland, negotiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

  • The Northern Ireland Protocol helps prevent checks along the land border between Northern Ireland (in the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (in the EU).

  • During Brexit negotiations, all sides agreed that protecting the 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal (the Good Friday agreement) was an absolute priority.

  • The protocol aims to resolve one of the thorniest issues created by Brexit: Those issues are :

  1. What to do about the border between Northern Ireland?

  2. Which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland? and

  3. Which remains part of the EU?

  • The protocol sets out a plan to deal with this unique situation.

  • It does so by effectively leaving Northern Ireland half inside the European system, and half inside the British one.

  • The plan means more checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from mainland Britain, effectively creating a border down the Irish Sea and dividing the UK.

Sher Bahadur Deuba: The Supreme Court of Nepal, on 12 July 2021 passed an order to appoint Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Minister Nepal within two days.

Nepal's Supreme Court also reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives for second time in five months.

Background:

  • The parliament was dissolved by caretaker Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli in May.

  • Nepal was thrown into a constitutional crisis after Mr. Oli lost a confidence vote on the 10th of May.

  • Then, the President of Nepal Bidya Devi Bhandari on the advice of Mr. Oli dissolved 275-member lower house on May 22, 2021 for second time in five months.

  • She also announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19.

Why Parliament was dissolved?

  • The parliament was dissolve by Bidhya Devi Bhandari after considering claims of support by both sides.

  • KP Sharma Oli had claimed to have support of 153 lawmakers including members of Janata Samajbadi Party while, Nepali Congress President Deuba had the support of 149 parliamentarians.

  • Both the claims did not comply because, Nepal’s house of representatives comprises of 275 members.

Political crisis in Nepal:

  • Political crisis in Nepal began in May 2018 when KP Sharma Oli-led CPN-UML & National Communist Party joined hands and decided to serve as joint chairmen of ruling party.

  • CPN-UML was largest party in House of Representatives , however, increasing disputes within the ruling party resulted in split again.

  • After the split, in December 2020, Prachanda-led party expelled Prime Minister Oli as co-Chair and Prachanda was made first Chairman.

  • In 2020, the house of representatives was dissolved which was reinstated again after the order of Supreme Court in 2021.

  • On May 10, 2021 Prime Minister Oli lost vote of confidence and house was dissolved again.

About Article 76 (7) of Constitution of Nepal:

  • President has the power to dissolve House of Representatives or Parliament under Article 76 (7) of Constitution of Nepal.

  • Under Article 76 (7), the Prime Minister of Nepal can dissolve House of Representatives and announce new date to conduct election within six months in case Prime Minister appointed under Clause (5) fails to own vote of confidence or when no member can be appointed as Prime Minister.

About Nepal:

  • Nepal officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is mainly situated in the Himalayas, but also includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, bordering Tibet of China to the north, and India in the south, east, and west.

  • It is narrowly separated from Bangladesh by the Siliguri Corridor, and from Bhutan by the Indian state of Sikkim.

  • Nepal is a multinational state, with Nepali as the official language.

  • Kathmandu is the nation's capital.

  • The current President of Nepal is Bidya Devi Bhandari.

Ethiopia Parliamentary Elections: In Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity party won national parliamentary election.

Highlights:

  • National Election Board of Ethiopia announced that the ruling party won 410 seats out of 436 in the federal parliament.

  • This landslide victory assured a second term for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

About:

  • Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018 after the former prime minister resigned amid widespread protests.

  • He had taken many steps for political and economic reforms during his tenure but also drawn intense international criticism for his handling of the conflict in the Tigray region has that left thousands of people dead.

About Ethopia:

  • Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa.

  • It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia (Somaliland) to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west and Sudan to the northwest.

  • The capital and largest city of Ethopia is Addis Ababa.

  • The currency used here is the Ethiopian birr.

Malala Day 2021: The International Malala Day is observed on July 12 to commemorate the birthday of young Pakistani activist, Malala Yousafzai.

Malala Yousafzai is an international symbol, who took the initiative to prioritize female education in her home country, Pakistan.

Malala Day History:

  • The United Nations had designated July 12 in 2013 as Malala Day to honour women and children’s rights around the world.

  • She delivered the speech at the United Nations (UN) headquarters on women's rights and education, calling world leaders to reform their policies and on July 12, which was also her birthday.

  • The speech gained several rounds of standing ovations and and this address led to the declaration of Malala Day by the UN.

About Malala:

  • Malala Yousafzai is a young Pakistani human rights activist.

  • At age 17, Malala was the youngest recipient ever of the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • She was born in Mingora, Pakistan, on July 12th, 1997.

  • As a young girl, Malala Yousafzai was not allowed to go to school as the Pakistani Taliban had banned girls from going to school.

  • However, the young girl refused to stay home and publicly advocated for the right to education for girls from as early as September 2008.

  • In 2009, Malala started a blog and wrote about life under Taliban rule. She also wrote about her desire to go to school. For three years, she and her father advocated for the right for girls to attend school.

  • As Malala Yousafzai became more recognized, the dangers facing her increased and she received numerous death threats.

The attack on Malala:

  • In October 2021, the teenager was attacked by Taliban gunmen after she publicly advocated for the education of girls.

  • She was left critically injured.

  • Nine months after being shot, on her 16th birthday, the fierce girl delivered a speech at UN headquarters on women’s right to education.

Malala Fund:

  • She founded the Malala Fund, a non-profit organization in 2013 along with her father to ensure free, safe, quality school education for girls around the world.

Books:

  • She co-authored her autobiography titled “I Am Malala”, which is an international bestseller.

  • She even published a children's picture book about her life experience in October 2017, which was titled-'Malala's Magic Pencil.'

  • She also wrote another book about herself and the refugee girls she met in her campaigns. The book titled, ‘We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World’, was published in 2018.

She finished her degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford in June 2020.

Awards and Honours:

  • Malala Yousafzai has received numerous national and international honours over the years. Some of which are as follows:

  • Malala Yousafzai jointly won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights activist from India. At 17 years, Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel laureate.

  • She is the second Pakistani national to receive a Nobel Prize after Abdus Salam who won Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979.

  • She won the Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice in November 2012.

  • She also won the International Children’s Prize in 2013.

  • She won the Simone de Beauvoir Prize, an international human rights prize for women’s freedom, in January 2013.

  • The European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in October 2013.

  • She also won the Harvard Foundation’s Peter Gomes Humanitarian Award in September 2013.

  • Yousafzai was honoured with the Anna Politkovskaya Award – Reach All Women in War in 2013.

  • Note: The award has been constituted to remember and honor the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya (1958–2006), who was murdered in Moscow on 7 October 2006 to silence her reporting about the war in Chechnya.

  • She also won the International Prize for Equality and Non-Discrimination in 2013.

  • She was appointed as the UN Messenger of Peace by the United Nations in April 2017. She became the youngest-ever to hold the post.

  • She was also awarded an honorary Canadian citizenship in April and became the youngest person to address the House of Commons in Canada.

  • The UN has declared her as “the most famous teenager in the world” in its Decade in Review report in late 2019.

Right to Repair Movement: The right to repair movement has recently been making waves across the globe.

Key Details:

  • From the United States (US) to Europe, pressure is mounting on manufacturers around the world to give consumers the right to repair their own electronic devices.

  • Activists and organizations around the world argue that these electronic manufacturers are encouraging a culture of ‘planned obsolescence’ — which means that devices are designed specifically to last a limited amount of time and to be replaced. This, they claim, leads to immense pressure on the environment and wasted natural resources.

  • However, it has been facing tremendous opposition and resistance from tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, Tesla, and even Amazon.

Reason for their resistance:

  • In response to this executive order, American companies say they fear for their business.

  • They argue that sharing information in this way would violate the intellectual property of their products.

  • The other main argument is that independent repairers could be harmed when attempting to repair a product or by using it after a faulty repair.

  • They also believe that this will threaten data and cybersecurity.

Background:

  • The US President Joe Biden had recently signed an executive order asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish rules to allow consumers to repair their electronic devices under their own conditions. These rules are intended to boost competition in the US economy.

  • The UK, too, introduced right-to-repair rules that should make it much easier to buy and repair daily-use gadgets such as TVs and washing machines.

What is the right to repair movement?

  • The right to repair movement started sometime in the 1950s, at the beginning of the computer era. This movement allows consumers the ability to repair and modify their own consumer electronic devices, where otherwise the manufacturer of such devices requires the consumer to use only their offered services.

  • The main aim of the movement is to get tech companies to make tools, spare parts, and repair manuals accessible to the public.

  • This can help consumers and repair shops fix devices and extend their life span.

Note:

  • The right to repair electronic products in their entirety is a real ecological and economic issue.

  • For years, tech giants and manufacturers have been doing everything to prevent consumers from being able to repair their products.

  • Instead they have favored the purchase of new devices.

Bastille Day: Bastille Day also known as the National Day of France is celebrated on the 14th of July every year.

Key Points:

  • Bastille Day is the common name given in English-speaking countries to the national day of France.

  • In French it is known officially as La Fête Nationale or le 14 juillet.

  • This day marks the fall of Bastille, a military fortress and prison, on July 14, 1789, when an angry mob stormed into it, signaling the beginning of the French Revolution.

  • The first celebration can be traced back to July 14, 1790, exactly one year after the Bastille fell. Since then, it has continued to grow, and large parties are held all over the world.

  • The slogan “Vive le 14 juillet!” (“Long live the 14th of July!”) has continued to be associated with the day.

History:

  • The Bastille was originally built as a fortress guarding the eastern entrance of the city of Paris during the 1300s.

  • It was later used as a French state prison and a place of detention for important persons during the 17th and the 18th centuries.

  • Prisoners who were directly sent there under orders of the king would get no trial or right of appeal, at times including political prisoners who spoke against the rules and laws set by the ruling king. Detained citizens awaiting trial were also held at the Bastille.

  • Despite plans to demolish the building in the late 18th century, the Bastille had come to represent the Bourbon monarchy and the harsh acts carried out by them.

  • It was stormed by an angry mob of revolutionists on July 14, 1789, who then released the seven prisoners being detained at the site. It is largely considered the signal to the French Revolution.

  • Within days of the storming, feudalism was abolished in France and by August the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” was published.

  • A year later, in 1790, a Fête de la Federation was held to celebrate the fall of the Bastille and to symbolize the unity of the French people during the Revolution.

  • Delegates from across France gathered in Paris to declare their allegiance to a single nation which was an important unifying aspect of the Revolution. 

BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers’ Meeting: The Union Minister for Labour & Employment Bhupender Yadav, on 15 July 2021 chaired the BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers’ Meeting under India’s Presidency.

Ministers of the member countries viz. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa participated in the meeting.

Key Details about the Meet:

  • The BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers’ Meeting was organized by India to exchange views on the impact of Covid-19 on global labour market, enhance information sharing, discuss and agree upon specific areas of cooperation between BRICS Member countries.

  • Discussion on four priority areas of cooperation took place namely:

  1. Promoting Social Security Agreements amongst BRICS Nations;

  2. Formalization of Labour Markets;

  3. Participation of Women in the Labour Force;

  4. Gig and Platform Workers: Role in the Labour Market.

  • The significant aspect of the meeting was the adoption of the BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers’ Declaration.

  • The Ministerial Declaration recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the efforts made to address unemployment, decent work deficits and inequality.

  • It also illustrates the strong determination of BRICS Member countries to recover with stronger national economies, inclusive labour markets and social protection systems.

  • Shri Bhupender Yadav, in his welcome address, stressed the need to enhance the intra-BRICS solidarity and promoting sustained, inclusive, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

  • He highlighted the path breaking reforms by Government of India (GoI) in amalgamation, simplification and codification of its labour laws into four labour codes, namely

  1. The Code on Wages 2019

  2. The Code on Social Security 2020

  3. The Industrial Relations Code 2020

  4. The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code 2020

  • The new Labour Codes provide integrated pathways towards robust formalization of the labour market, increasing participation of women in the labour force and enhancing the role of gig and platform workers in the labour market.

  • The Minister further emphasized the need for the signing of Social Security agreements amongst BRICS nations to promote the welfare of the international migrant workers.

About BRICS:

  • It is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies which are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010.

  • The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs.

  • All are also the members of G20. Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.

  • BRICS headquarter is situated at Shanghai, China. BRICS members are known for their influence in regional affairs.

World Day for International Justice 2021: The International Justice Day also referred to as Day of International Criminal Justice or International Justice Day, is an international day celebrated throughout the world on July 17 as part of an effort to recognize the emerging system of international criminal justice.

Highlights:

  • The International Justice Day is celebrated by honouring individuals working to advocate the fundamental human rights of victims affected by criminal acts.

  • The day brings together all people who want to support justice, advocate victims' rights, and aid in the prevention of crime that threatens the world's peace, safety, and well-being.

History:

  • On 1 June 2010, at the Review Conference of the Rome Statute held in Kampala (Uganda), the Assembly of State Parties decided to celebrate 17 July as the Day of International Criminal Justice.

  • On July 17, 1998, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the International Criminal Court (ICC), adopted the Rome Statute and the day also commemorates the adoption of ICC's founding treaty.

  • Established in 1945, the ICJ is the United Nation's principal judicial organ.

  • It is the only principal UN body which is located in The Hague (Netherlands) -outside New York.

Theme for World Day for International Justice 2021

  • The theme for World Day for International Justice 2021 is ‘A Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy.’

  • This theme has been adopted for 2021 to celebrate the World Day for International Justice.

  • The topic is extremely relevant for this year as with the swift pace of adoption of the digital economy aided by the Covid-19 pandemic, the frequent incidents of internet frauds, breach and theft have also increased manifold.

About International Court of Justice (ICJ):

  • ICJ is the first permanent and independent international judicial institution that is capable of trying individuals accused of the most serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights which include the crime of genocide, a war of crimes, and crimes against humanity.

  • International Criminal Court (ICC) came into being when several states adopted a statute in Rome.

  • This statue is known as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

  • However, the ICC does not replace the national courts but it is available when a country can't or won't carry out investigations and prosecute perpetrators.

China's Cyber-Security Industry Plan: The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China has drafted a cyber-security industry plan.

The draft comes as Chinese authorities step up efforts to draft regulations to better govern data storage, data transfer, and personal data privacy.

Key Points of the Plan:

  • China’s cyber-security is a three-year action plan to develop China’s cyber-security industry.

  • It is estimated to be worth more than 250 billion yuan ($38.6 billion) by 2023.

  • the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) proposed draft rules calling for all data-rich tech companies with over 1 million users to undergo security reviews before listing overseas.

  • The plan came in the backdrop of a regulatory probe of Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing for violating data privacy laws.

Cybersecurity Law of China:

  • This law, commonly referred to as Chinese Cybersecurity Law, was enacted to increase data localization, data protection, and cybersecurity for national security.

  • It was enacted by Standing Committee of National People’s Congress on November 7, 2016.

  • Law came into force on June 1, 2017.

  • Cybersecurity is recognized as a basic law in China.

  • Thus, puts cybersecurity law on top of pyramid-structured legislation on cybersecurity.

Provisions of Law:

  • The law requires network operators to store data within China.

  • It also allows Chinese authorities to conduct spot-checks on network operations of company. The Law offers principal norms on some of the issues that are not immediately urgent but having long-term importance.

  • It also provides elaborate regulations and definitions on legal liability.

  • For illegal conduct, Law provides for punishments like fines, suspension for rectification, revocation of permits & business licenses.

Is the law applicable to whole country?

  • As specified in local laws as “One country, two systems” principle, this law is applicable to the whole country except its special administrative regions like Macau and Hong Kong as these regions have a high degree of autonomy.

About China:

  • China, officially the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia.

  • It is governed by the Communist Party of China.

  • It is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, the People's Liberation Army, and the second-largest defense budget.

  • The capital of China is Beijing.

  • The currency used here is Yuan (CNY) and Renminbi (RMB).

  • The yuan is the unit of account of the country's economic and financial system while Renminbi is the official currency of China where it acts as a medium of exchange.

  • The current President of china is Xi Jinping.

Bashar al-Assad: Syrian President Bashar Assad was sworn in 17 July 2021 for a fourth seven-year term.

Key Highlights:

  • He was re-elected in a landslide victory with 95.1 per cent of the votes.

  • The win delivers Assad seven more years in power and lengthens his family's rule to nearly six decades.

  • His father, Hafez al-Assad, led Syria for 30 years until his death in 2000.

  • Mr. Assad was facing symbolic competition from two candidates — former Deputy Cabinet Minister Abdallah Saloum Abdallah, and Mahmoud Ahmed Marei, head of a small, officially sanctioned opposition party.

  • Mr. Assad’s victory comes as the country is still devastated by the conflict.

  • Fighting has subsided but the war is not over. An economic crisis is getting worse in a country where over 80% of the population lives below the poverty line and the local currency is in a free fall.

About Syria:

  • Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country located on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea in southwestern Asia.

  • It borders Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest.

  • Its capital and largest city is Damascus.

  • The currency used here is Syrian pound.

  • The current President of Syria is Bashar al-Assad.

US Independence Day 2021: This year marks the 245th anniversary of the freedom of the thirteen American colonies from British colonial rule.

Key Points:

  • Independence Day, also called Fourth of July or July 4th is observed on July 4 every year.

  • American Independence Day is observed on July 4 and is also called the Fourth of July.

  • The date marks the annual celebration of nationhood in the United States.

  • The US Independence Day has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941.

  • But the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution.

  • On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

  • Among the many names Thomas Jefferson, who was a renowned statesman and diplomat along with political philosopher Benjamin Franklin, renounced the British Empire and pronounced the North American colonies as free states.

Independence Day celebration:

  • Fireworks are considered to be very important part of the Independence Day celebration in US history and tradition.

  • It was in Philadelphia city that the tradition to set off fireworks started on 4 July, 1777.

  • It was during the first organized celebration of Independence Day, when a salute of 13 gunshots was conducted in the morning and evening.

A History of Independence Day:

  • When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical.

  • By the middle of the following year, however, many more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments such as those expressed in the bestselling pamphlet “Common Sense,” published by Thomas Paine in early 1776.

  • On June 7, when the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence.

  • Amid heated debate, Congress postponed the vote on Lee’s resolution, but appointed a five-man committee—including Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York—to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.

Additional Fact:

  • John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, and would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest.

  • Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826—the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Haiti: Haiti has declared a state of emergency after the assassination of its president Jovenel Moïse by unidentified gunmen on 7 July 2021.

Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph succeeded him as acting President.

Key Details:

  • He was shot dead while his wife got injured in an attack on their home in the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

  • Moise, a 53-year-old former businessman who took office in 2017, had ruled by decree for more than two years after the country failed to hold elections.

  • Haiti, a country of about 11 million people, has struggled to achieve stability since the fall of the Duvalier dynastic dictatorship in 1986, and has grappled with a series of coups and foreign interventions.

  • Many people in Haiti had wanted Moise to leave office. Ever since he took over in 2017, he faced calls to resign and mass protests - first over corruption allegations and his management of the economy, then over his increasing grip on power.

  • The Dominican Republic closed the border it shares with Haiti on the island of Hispaniola.

About President Jovenel Moïse:

  • He was a Haitian entrepreneur and politician who served as the president of Haiti from 2017 until his assassination in 2021.

  • He was sworn in as President in February 2017 after winning the November 2016 election.

  • In 2019, political unrest and calls for his resignation became a crisis.

  • In 2015, President Michel Martelly designated Moïse as the presidential candidate of the political party Martelly founded, the center-right Haitian Tèt Kale Party (PHTK).

  • In his campaign, Moïse promoted bio-ecological agriculture as an economic engine for Haiti, whose population is over 50% rural.

  • He also expressed support for policies pursued by Martelly: universal education and health care, energy reform, rule of law, the creation of sustainable jobs, environmental protection, and development of Haiti as a destination for ecotourism and agritourism.

Honours:

  • Moïse was awarded the Order of Brilliant Jade with Grand Cordon by the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, in May 2018.

  • Tsai commended the economic initiatives undertaken by Moïse's government.

About Haiti:

  • Haiti officially the Republic of Haiti, formerly known as Hayti, is a Caribbean country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and Jamaica and south of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

  • It occupies the western three-eighths of the island which it shares with the Dominican Republic.

  • The capital of Haiti is Port-au-Prince.

  • The currency used here is Haitian gourde.

India – EU Cooperation: A virtual meeting aimed at strengthening agriculture coorporation, was recently held between Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and Janusz Wojciechowski, Member of the European Commission, Agriculture.

Key details of the Meet:

  • A strong momentum of the India-EU relations especially since the last India-EU Summit in July, 2020 was acknowledged.

  • Both dignitaries discussed EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and the recent India market reforms; EU Farm to Fork Strategy and UN Food System Summit and bilateral cooperation.

  • They also discussed the G20 Agriculture Minister Process and fixation of the Maximum Residue Limit of Tricyclazole in Indian Basmati Rice by the EU.

  • The Member of European Commission, Agriculture explained in detail the recent reforms undertaken by EU in Common Agriculture Policy and EU Farm to Fork Strategy in order to make agriculture green & sustainable.

  • The members also mentioned that EU has set a target of bringing 25 per cent of area in the EU under Organic Farming by 2030.

  • The Union Minister too explained the scenario of agriculture in India and the dominance of small farmers and the commitment of the Government of India (GoI) towards welfare of farmers in India.

  • Agriculture Minister Tomar also highlighted the recent initiatives taken by Government to increase farmer’s income, the launch of Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, agriculture marketing infrastructure for rural areas, scheme of formation of 10000 FPOs to help small and marginal farmers in marketing of agricultural produce.

  • He enlisted the steps being taken by the GoI to make agriculture sustainable and environment friendly which included encouragement of application nano-urea and Organic Farming under the Pramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana.

  • He also explained the initiative of encouraging organic farming on either sides of Ganga river up to 5 Km through formation of clusters wherein 11 lakh farmers have already enrolled.

India’s support to UN Food System Summit:

  • The Agriculture Minister acknowledged India’s support to the UN Food Systems Summit.

  • He also informed the EU delegation that he will be leading the India delegation to the Pre-Summit being organized from 26th to 28th July, 2021 virtually.

Maximum Residual Limit (MRL):

  • The Union Minister also raised the issue of fixing the Maximum Residual Limit (MRL) of Tricyclazole used in rice crop.

  • This has been a concern for India and is affecting India’s Basmati Rice Exports to the EU.

  • All the required studies and documents have been submitted to EU in May-2021 and MRL will be fixed by second quarter of 2022 before next season.

Hunger Virus: As per the anti-poverty organization Oxfam's report the coronavirus pandemic, climate crisis and conflicts have pushed more than half a million people to the brink of starvation.

In a report titled “The Hunger Virus Multiplies," Oxfam said that the death toll from famine outpaces that of COVID-19, which kills around seven people per minute.

Key facts:

  • As per report, 11 people are likely dying every minute from acute hunger because of three Cs:

  1. Conflict

  2. Covid-19

  3. Climate crisis.

  • These 3 Cs have pushed more than 520,000 people to brink of starvation.

  • The number of people around the globe living with "extreme hunger" increased from last year by around 20 million to 155 million.

  • More than half a million people are living in "famine-like conditions" around the world.

  • The ongoing covid-19 pandemic along with the economic disruptions of the pandemic besides, escalating climate crisis have deepened poverty and catastrophic food insecurity across the hunger hotspots of the world.

What is fueling the crisis?

  • Around two-thirds of the 155 million facing hunger live in countries with military conflict.

  • Despite the deadly covid-19 pandemic, global military spending increased by $51 billion, Oxfam report underlines. This amount exceeds by at least six times what United Nations needs to stop hunger.

  • The economic effects of the pandemic, combined with global warming have caused a 40% increase in global food prices which the highest in over a decade.

  • This surge has contributed significantly to pushing tens of millions more people into hunger.

Hunger 'hot spots':

  • Oxfam listed several countries it considered "the world's worst hunger hot spots," where existing food crises were worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — all torn by conflict — have had a "surge in extreme levels of hunger since 2020.

  • Venezuela, the Central African Republic and the Sahel were also on Oxfam's hotspot list, as well as India and Brazil, which are grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.

Way forward:

  • Governments must urgently provide funding to response to hunger and social protection programs in order to save lives, rather than striking arms deals that lead to conflict, war and hunger.

About Oxfam:

  • Oxfam is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty and led by Oxfam International.

  • It is a major nonprofit group with an extensive collection of operations.

  • It was founded on 5 October 1942 in Oxford, England.

  • Oxfam works on trade justice, fair trade, education, debt and aid, livelihoods, health, HIV/AIDS, gender equality, conflict (campaigning for an international arms trade treaty) and natural disasters, democracy and human rights, and climate change.

  • It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.

  • The Executive Director of Oxfam is Gabriela Bucher.

White Flag Movement: In Malaysia, some residents of low-income families have started waving white flags as part of the so-called “White Flag Campaign”, or the #benderaputi (white flag) movement.

Key Details:

  • They have started this movement to convey distress about the financial crunch they have had to deal with amid the lockdowns due to Covid-19.

  • Malaysia enforced another lockdown on June 1 in order to control another surge of Covid infections.

  • As part of the movement that was initiated last week, families that are facing hunger or need any other kind of assistance are encouraged to wave a white flag or put a piece of white cloth outside their homes to signal that they need help.

  • The idea is that by spotting the white flag, neighbours and good samaritans can reach them.

Black Flag Movement:

  • Alongside the white flag movement, there is the black flag movement as well.

  • This black flag movement has been started in order to express dissatisfaction with the Malaysian government.

  • This movement is specifically demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Red flag movement:

  • As per the news reports, the red flag campaign or #benderamerah, that works in the same way as the white flag movement, but the difference is that the former is targeted at Malaysian citizens only and was started by the Malaysian Animal Association as many families were abandoning pets they couldn’t afford to feed.

Why use white flags?

  • The world over, white flags are used as a symbol of surrender or truce.

  • The phrase ‘white flag’ has also found its way into the Cambridge dictionary, which defines it as “a flag that is waved to show that you accept defeat or do not intend to attack”.

  • However, in different countries’ military manuals have rules that govern when and how a white flag can be used.

For Example:

  • Australia’s Commanders’ Guide (1994) states “It is important to note that a white flag represents an expression of a desire to negotiate.

  • Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) says, “Personnel bearing a white flag are indicating a desire to negotiate or surrender. They should not be attacked but should be dealt with cautiously.

  • In some Central American countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras “white flags have appeared all over the social terrain.

  • It depicted a failed political and economic system whose primary effect for common people has been enduring a life of dehumanization, precarity, and marginalization.”

About Malasia:

  • It is a Southeast Asian country occupying parts of the Malay Peninsula and the island of Borneo.

  • The capital of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur.

  • The currency used here is Malaysian ringgit.

BRICS Innovation Cooperation Action Plan (2021-24): All BRICS countries have agreed to the STI-led BRICS Innovation Cooperation Action Plan 2021-24 proposed by India during 12th Meeting of BRICS Science and Technology Steering Committee.

Key Points:

  • India had proposed the plan to facilitate sharing of experiences of each other’s innovation ecosystem and networking of innovators and entrepreneurs.

  • The details of the Action Plan will be worked out by BRICS Science, Technology Innovation Entrepreneurship Partnership (STIEP) Working Group.

  • It was agreed that the proposal may be forwarded to BRICS STIEP working group through the respective country's STI focal point.

  • The 12th Meeting of BRICS Science and Technology Steering Committee was hosted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), India on 8 July 2021.

  • Scientific Ministries and agencies of all BRICS countries participated in the meeting.

About BRICS:

  • BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies which are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

  • Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010.

  • The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs.

  • All are also the members of G20.

  • Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.

  • BRICS is headquartered in Shanghai, China.

  • BRICS members are known for their influence in regional affairs.

India-UK Financial Markets Dialogue: UK-India Financial Markets Dialogue (FMD) held the inaugural meeting on July 8, 2021 virtually.

Highlights:

  • The FMD was held in order to strengthen bilateral financial connections.

  • The Dialogue was chaired by senior officials from the Indian side by the Ministry of Finance and from UK, Her Majesty’s Treasury.

  • Representatives from Indian and UK independent regulatory agencies, including the RBI, SEBI, Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority also participated.

Key points of the UK-India FMD:

  • Discussions during the Dialogue were focused on four themes:

  1. GIFT (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City) City, India’s flagship international financial centre,

  2. Banking and payments,

  3. Insurance

  4. Capital markets.

  • At the meeting, Indian and UK participants discussed progress on the UK-India GIFT City Strategic Partnership.

  • During the FMD, The City of London Corporation''s Capital Markets Working Group presented its findings on the Indian corporate bond market while the India-UK Financial Partnership presented recommendations on the UK-India financial services relationship.

  • Both sides agreed on areas for further collaboration, including sustainable finance and FinTech, with the aim of supporting increased UK industry presence in the centre.

  • They also concurred to continue to engage bilaterally on these areas in the coming months, in the run up to the next EFD and the beginning of negotiations for a future India-UK FTA, both expected to take place later this year.

Background:

  • The FMD was established at the 10th Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) in October 2020 which was held virtually by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

  • It was to be established to deepen bilateral ties in the financial sector.

Bilateral Trade between UK & India

  • According to the latest British government statistics, bilateral trade between the UK and India stood at over GBP 18 billion in 2020.

  • India accounts for the UK''s second-largest source of investment in terms of number of projects.

  • In May 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced their ambition to double the value of UK-India trade over the next decade as well as an intent to begin work towards negotiations on a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA).

  • 2030 Roadmap of India-UK was agreed by Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson with the aim of transforming UK-India relationship, specially to build back better from Covid-19 pandemic.

About United Kingdom:

  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK or U.K.) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north­western coast of the European mainland.

  • The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north­eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands.

  • It consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, The North Sea, and the Irish Sea.

  • The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy.

  • The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the world's longest-serving current head of state.

  • The capital of the United Kingdom is London.

  • The currency used here is Pound sterling.

  • The current Prime Minister of UK is Boris Johnson.

GCI 2020: United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technologies — International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has released the Global Cyber Security Index (GCI) 2020.

About GCI:

  • The GCI is a composite index created, analyzed and published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
  • ITU is a specialized agency of the United Nations.
  • It measures the commitment to cybersecurity of its 194 member countries to raise cybersecurity awareness.
  • The latest report is the fourth GCI edition by the ITU.
  • The first version of GCI was launched six years ago.

How does GCI measure countries’ commitment to cybersecurity on a global scale?

The development or engagement of each country is assessed along five pillars –

(i) Legal measures,

(ii) Technical measures,

(iii) Organizational measures,

(iv) Capacity development, and

(v) Cooperation-

Then it is aggregated into a composite score.

The countries were asked 82 questions where 20 indicators were measured.

India's ranking:

  • According to a United Nations report released, India has jumped 37 places to 10th position in the Global Cyber Security Index (GCI) 2020.

Performance of India and its neighbours:

  • India is placed on the 10th spot.
  • In 2018, it was ranked on the 47th spot.
  • It was ranked rank 47 in 2019.
  • In the Asia-Pacific region India secured the 4th spot.
  • Neighbours China and Pakistan were ranked at 33 and 79, respectively.

Global rankings:

  • The top rank in the GCI was achieved by the US with a score of 100.
  • The UK and Saudi Arabia finished second, tied for next place with a score of 99.54.
  • In the Asia Pacific region, South Korea and Singapore are on top with a score of 98.52, which ranks fourth globally.
  • Other countries at the top of the index include Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia (98.06) at fifth place, Lithuania at sixth, Japan at seventh and Canada, France and India at the subsequent positions.
  • Among other countries, Turkey (97.49) was ranked 11th, Germany (97.41) at 13th, China (92.53) at 33rd and Israel (90.93) at 36th position.

International Telecommunication Union (ITU):

  • ITU was founded in 1865 and is an integral part of United Nations 1947.
  • It has widest decision-making scope among international ICT organizations with respect to issues addressed and types of decisions made. 
  • Its treaties provide an international legal framework for cooperation between states, private sector etc.

UNSC High-level Open Debate: Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will address the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) High-level Open Debate on Children and armed conflict on 28 June 2021 through video conferencing.

The debate will be chaired by the President of Estonia Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Executive Director of UNICEF Ms. Henrietta Fore will also address the High-Level Open Debate.

Baihetan Hydro Project: The Government of China officially recently operationalised the two units of giant Baihetan hydropower plant, which is the world’s second-biggest hydroelectric dam, to start generating energy.

Highlights:

The Baihetan Dam is set up on the Jinsha River, in southwestern China.

The giant Baihetan hydropower plant on the upstream branch of China's Yangtze River began generating electricity for the first time.

The project's first two 1-gigawatt (GW) turbines will start operating after a three-day trial.

About Baihetan Dam:

  1. Baihetan Dam was built by the China Three Gorges Corporation which is the world’s biggest investor in hydro, solar and wind generation.
  2. This three Gorges Dam is located on the border between southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan.
  3. It is part of a cascade of dams on the Jinsha river, which is the upstream section of the Yangtze.
  4. The dam is a 289-meter-tall (948 feet) double-curvature arch dam.
  5. Total installed capacity of the project is 16 million kilowatts.
  6. Hydropower station is equipped with 16 hydro-generating units.
  7. Each unit has a capacity of 1 million kilowatts.
  8. This is the largest single-unit capacity worldwide.

Aim:

  1. Through the Baihetan Dam, the Chinese government aims to curb surging fossil fuel demand by building more hydropower capacity.

Background:

  1. The Dam has been operationalised in the backdrop of 100th anniversary of ruling Communist Party of China on 1st July 2021. 
  2. The project is part of a national scheme to generate electricity and deliver it to high energy-consuming regions on the eastern coast, and is also designed to strengthen control over water flows during the heavy summer flood season.
  3. This project symbolizes the efficiency of Chinese Communist Party in planning and completing large-scale projects.

About Yangtze River:

  1. Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and third-longest in world.
  2. It is also the longest worldwide to flow entirely within one country.
  3. It originates from Jari Hill in Tanggula Mountains in Tibetan Plateau and flows for 6,300 km in east direction to drain into East China Sea.
  4. It is considered as sixth-largest river by discharge volume in world.
  5. The river drains one-fifth of China’s land area.
  6. About Jinsha River:
  7. It is the Chinese name for upper stretches of Yangtze River.
  8. River flows across Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces in western China.
  9. It passes through Tiger Leaping Gorge.
  10. It is significant in generating hydroelectric power. Several worlds’ largest hydroelectric power stations have been constructed on Jinsha River.

About China:

  1. China, officially the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia.
  2. It is governed by the Communist Party of China.
  3. It is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, the People's Liberation Army, and the second-largest defense budget.
  4. The capital of China is Beijing.
  5. The currency used here is Yuan (CNY) and Renminbi (RMB).
  6. The yuan is the unit of account of the country's economic and financial system while Renminbi is the official currency of China where it acts as a medium of exchange.
  7. The current President of china is Xi Jinping.

International Day of Parliamentarism: International Day of Parliamentarism is observed globally on 30 June every year.

Highlights:

  1. It marks day of establishment of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the global organization of parliaments in 1889.
  2. The year 2021 is the 132nd anniversary of IPU.
  3. The year 2021 marks the 4th edition of the day.

Significance:

  1. The Day celebrates parliaments and ways during which parliamentary systems of government improve the everyday lives of individuals throughout the world.
  2. It is also a chance for parliaments to spot challenges and stock ways to deal with them effectively.

History:

  1. It was established by United Nations General Assembly in 2018 by adopting n its resolution A/RES/72/278. The day seeks to unite all parliamentarians of the world.
  2. The first International Day of Parliamentarism was celebrated in 2018.

Importance of Parliament:

  1. Parliaments play a vital role in National plans and strategies.
  2. It ensures greater transparency and accountability at both national as well as global level.
  3. Strong parliaments are a cornerstone of democracy as they represent voice of people, allocate funds to implement laws and policies, pass laws and hold governments accountable to people.

About IPU:

  1. IPU is an acronym for Inter-Parliamentary Union.
  2. The IPU is an international organization of national parliaments.
  3. It connects national parliaments in order to promote greater accountability, transparency and participation at global level.
  4. Its founders were statesmen Frédéric Passy of France and William Randal Cremer of the United Kingdom, who sought to create the first permanent forum for political multilateral negotiations.
  5. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  6. The current President of IPU is Gabriela Cuevas Barron.
  7. The current Secretary-General is Martin Chungong.

About Parliaments:

  1. The Parliament is a national assembly of elected representatives.
  2. Every nation in world has some form of representative government be it Presidential form or Parliamentary form.
  3. A parliamentary system is of two categories:
  1. Bicameral-with two chambers of parliament
  2. Unicameral-with one chamber
  1. Out of 193 countries, 79 are bicameral and 114 are unicameral, which makes a total of 272 chambers of parliament with more than 46,000 members of parliament.
  2. Althingi, the Icelandic Parliament, founded in 930 is World’s oldest parliament.

Indian Parliament:

  1. India's federal legislative branch consists of the President, the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) as the upper house, and the Lok Sabha (House of the People) as the lower house.
  2. The House of People and the Council of States constitute India's bicameral Parliament.

Bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol: The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill to remove statues honoring those who upheld slavery or backed the Confederacy from the Capitol building, which displays statues selected by all 50 states.

Highlights:

The bill was passed by a vote of 285 to 120.

Every Democrat present and 67 Republicans voted for it.

The bill heads to the Senate for consideration, where it would need 10 Republican senators to join every Democrat to pass the upper chamber.

Key Points:

  1. The bill will remove a bust of the former Supreme Court chief justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that denied enslaved people the right to be citizens.
  2. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, said on the House floor before the vote that it’s time to remove those symbols of slavery, segregation and sedition from these halls.

Trump-era Rules: President Joe Biden recently signed three separate bills on June 30, 2021 that dismantle part of Donald Trump era.

Key Details:

These signed bills -

  1. Block payday lenders from avoiding caps on interest rates,
  2. Restrict climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions from oil & gas drilling
  3. End rules on how Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) settles claims.

Each of these rules reflects a return to common sense and a commitment to the common good.

The three bills passed by House and Senate through Congressional Review Act allow Congress to overturn certain regulations that were in place for a short time.

Background:

  1. Under former President Donald Trump, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency had enabled payday lenders to charge interest rates in excess of what was allowed by the state.
  2. Payday lenders were able to partner with a nationally chartered bank to make high-cost loans and avoid state usury laws.
  3. The Trump administration also loosened rules on methane emissions from leaks and flares in oil and gas wells.

About EEOC:

  1. EEOC refers to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  2. EEOC is a federal agency, established through Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  3. It was established to administer and enforce civil rights laws against workplace discrimination.
  4. It investigates discrimination complaints on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information etc.
  5. It also mediates and settles discrimination complaints prior to their investigation.
  6. It has been empowered to file civil discrimination suits against employers on behalf of alleged victims. It can also adjudicate claims of discrimination against federal agencies.

About USA:

  1. The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country consisting of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.
  2. The 50 states covers a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean.
  3. The currency used in USA is United States dollar - USD also abbreviated US$.
  4. The capital of US is Washington, D.C.
  5. The current President of US is Joe Biden

Canada Day: Canada Day is the national day of Canada which is celebrated on 1 July every year.

Highlights:

  • It is a federal statutory holiday that celebrates the anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
  • Canada Day was previously known as Dominion Day in honour of the British Empire's Dominion of Canada.
  • Gradually Canada gained political control and governance over its own affairs and gradually became independent.
  • Since then, Canada Day is observed every year on 1 July to pay tribute to the people involved in the independence struggle; to remember and celebrate Canada’s independence.

History of Canada Day:

  • Although Canada was formally established on July 1, 1867, it did not achieve total independence from British authority until 1982.
  • The British North America Act was signed on July 1, 1867, uniting Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.
  • The passing of this Act gave the people of the country power to control the Canadian Constitution and became a national milestone in the way of the country’s independence.
  • Later, with the constitutional changes, Canada gained more political control and governance over its own affairs, such as national defence, foreign affairs and more.

About Canada:

  • Canada is a country in North America.
  • It is the second largest country in the world in area (after Russia), occupying roughly the northern two-fifths of the continent of North America.
  • Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border.
  • Canada's capital is Ottawa.
  • The currency used here is Canadian Dollar.
  • The current Prime Minister of Canada is Justin Trudeau.

Current International Events - June 2021

International Yoga Day 2021: International Yoga Day is observed every year on June 21. This day is celebrated annually on June 21, since 2015.

The idea behind the day is to create awareness about yoga and its many benefits.

This year is the seventh edition of the International Yoga Day.

Theme of 2021:

The theme this of 2021 is 'Yoga for wellness'. The theme focuses on practising Yoga for physical as well as mental wellbeing.

HIghlights:

  • On the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “When whole world is combating Covid-19 pandemic, yoga remains a ray of hope.”
  • Prime Minister launched “mYoga app” and gave the mantra of “Yog se Sahyog Tak”and it will be available worldwide.
  • This app is a great example of fusion of modern technology & ancient science.
  • mYoga app was launched in collaboration with WHO.
  • The ministry of culture will organize a special drive named 'Yoga An Indian Heritage' at 75 cultural heritage locations.
  • India Post will issue a special cancellation stamp on all mail booked on June 21 to capture the essence of International Yoga Day.
  • The special pictorial cancellation stamp will be an inked marking or impression with a graphical design with International Day of Yoga 2021 written in both Hindi and English.

About mYoga App:

  • mYoga App will provide yoga training videos in different languages for people worldwide. It will also help in achieving the motto of ‘One World, One Health’.

Background:

  • On December 11, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly had declared June 21 as ‘International Day of Yoga’, months after PM Modi had proposed the idea.
  • June 21st was suggested because it is the longest day of year in Northern Hemisphere & having a special significance across the world.

Hydrogen Task Force: India and the United States jointly launched a hydrogen task force under their Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP) to boost India's energy security efforts.

This was informed by US India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF).

About US-India Hydrogen Task Force:

  • The US India Hydrogen Task Force is a high-level bi-lateral collaboration between the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
  • This Task Force was jointly launched by the DOE, MNRE and the USISPF.
  • The Inaugural Session of the launch discusses high-level priorities for the task force.
  • It was attended by senior government officials from India and the US and representatives from US India Strategic Partnership Forum, the Secretariat for the Task Force.
  • It was constituted with the aim of serving as a forum to achieve affordable hydrogen solutions.
  • It seeks to enhance energy security & resilience by boosting up low or zero-carbon hydrogen technologies & deployment.

Key Details:

  • The Task Force will represent industry and government stakeholders and will mainly assess technology status, study innovative policy options and make recommendations.
  • It will bridge government research with unique industry perspectives which will help in reaching the goals of decarbonizing, high-polluting industrial sectors and achieving a greener & cleaner planet.
  • It will strengthen focused public, private cooperation between both the countries and make way for accelerated development & deployment of hydrogen energy technologies.
  • It will bring industries and academy together with an aim of integrating private sector inputs to bring latest technology & adopt business models to develop and deploy hydrogen technologies.

Background:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joseph Biden agreed to launch a high-level India-US Partnership during the Leaders’ Summit on Climate on April 22, 2021.
  • The partnership envisages bilateral cooperation on strong actions in the current decade to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Nikol Pashinyan: Armenia’s acting Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, and his Civil Contract Party won a parliamentary election.

Highlights:

  • He won the elections with 53.92 per cent votes.
  • Pashinyan had earlier claimed victory in on 20th June 2021 election based on preliminary results, with his party taking an early lead over its closest challenger, the Armenia Alliance, led by former President Robert Kocharyan.
  • Former President Robert Kocharyan's Armenia Alliance trailed on 21.04% votes.
  • Pashinyan, a 46-year-old former journalist who came to power after leading large street protests in 2018 that ousted his predecessor, continued to enjoy broad support despite the humiliating defeat, with fewer Armenians willing to vote for those who ran the country before him.

About Armenia:

  • Armenia, officially the Republic of Armenia, is a landlocked country located in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.
  • It is a part of the Caucasus region.
  • It is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the Lachin corridor under a Russian peacekeeping force and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.
  • Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage.
  • The capital is Yerevan (Erevan).
  • The currency used here is Armenian dram.

Ebrahim Raisi: Ebrahim Raisi has won the 2021 Iranian presidential election.

Highlights:

He is set to become Iran’s president after winning 62 per cent of the vote with about 90 per cent of ballots counted.

The 60-year-old Raisi will succeed Hassan Rouhani in August 2021, to begin his four-year term.

Aboout Ebrahim Raisi:

  • Raisi first came to prominence when he became the Prosecutor General of Karaj in 1980, when he was 20 years old.
  • He then became the Prosecutor of Tehran and the First Deputy to the Head of Judiciary from 2004 to 2014 after which he became the Prosecutor General of Iran from 2014 to 2016.
  • In 2019, Raisi was appointed the head of Iran’s judiciary, an appointment that sparked concerns because of his involvement in the mass executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 after the Iran-Iraq war.

 About Iran:

  • Iran also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Western Asia.
  • It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan,to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq.
  • Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance.
  • The capital of Iran is Tehran.
  • The currency used there is Iranian Rial.
  • The current President of Iran is Ebrahim Raisi

International Day of the Seafarer: The International Maritime Organization (IMO) celebrates the International Day of the Seafarer on June 25 every year.

Highlights:

  • The day is celebrated by IMO recognize the invaluable contribution seafarers mate to world trade and the economy by conducting sea transport.
  • This year is the 11th anniversary of the International Day of the Seafarer.  

Theme of 2021 Day of the Seafarer:

  • The theme of the 2021 campaign is “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future”.
  • The International Maritime Organization (IMO) on this day has called seafarers to answer questions on what a fair future for seafarers looks like.
  • The campaign aims to discuss "issues that will still be relevant to seafarers after the pandemic, such as fair treatment of seafarers, fair working conditions, fair training, fair safety, etc."
  • Seafarers have been on the COVID-19 frontlines, maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, fuel and medical supplies.

History of International Day of the Seafarer:

  • The Day of the Seafarer was established in 2010 by resolution 19 adopted by 2010 Diplomatic Conference in Manila to adopt revised Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers (STCW)Convention,  1978.
  • For the 1st time the day as observed in 2011 and since then it is being observed annually.

Significance of International Day of the Seafarer:

  • The day celebrates and recognizes unique contribution made by seafarers globally to international seaborne trade, civil society and world economy.
  • The day also encourages governments, shipping organizations, companies, ship owners and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote Day of the Seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully.
  • The day also aims to recognize the risks and personal costs they bear while on their jobs.
  • Another purpose is to bring global attention to the issues affecting their work and lives, such as piracy.

About International Maritime Organization (IMO):

  • IMO is the United Nations specialized agency which is responsible for regulating shipping, safety and security of shipping and prevention of marine pollution by ships.
  • It was established on 17 March 1948.
  • It is headquartered in London, United Kingdom (UK).
  • Its Parent organization is United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

India and Denmark: Denmark has recently signed the International Solar Alliance Framework Agreement (ISA FA) and Instrument of Ratification with India.

  • Denmark has become the first country to ratify International Solar Alliance Framework Agreement (ISA FA) after amendments in the ISA FA entered into force on January 8, 2021.

International Solar Alliance (ISA):

  • ISA is an alliance of 121 countries.
  • It was initiated by India. 
  • Most of member countries are sunshine countries located completely or partly between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
  • It is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization.
  • ISA is the largest grouping of states, after United Nations.

Objective of ISA:

  • ISA was established with the objective of working for efficient consumption of solar energy in a bid to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Background:

  • ISA initiative was first proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech in November 2015 at Wembley Stadium.
  • During his speech, he referred the sunshine countries as Suryaputra.

Who can join ISA?

  • ISA is primarily an alliance of countries lying between Tropics.
  • However, countries which do not fall within the Tropics can join alliance and enjoy all benefits as other members, except the voting rights.

ISA Framework agreement (ISA FA):

  • ISA FA was opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016. It was joined by 200 countries.

About Denmark:

  • Denmark officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe.
  • It is a Scandinavian country comprising the Jutland Peninsula and around 406 islands.
  • It is bordered to the west by the North Sea, and its islands are located on the sea lane from the Baltic to the main oceans of the world, as well as the trade route from the Nordic countries to Central Europe.
  • It is an independent country since the late 10th century and is also one of the oldest states of Europe.
  • The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen.
  • The currency used here is Danish Krone.
  • The current prime minister of Denmark is Mette Frederiksen.

42nd session of FAO Conference: Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar recently addressed the 42nd session of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Conference.

  • The Conference kicked off with messages from Italy's President Sergio Mattarella, and Pope Francis.
  • The conference is held every two years.
  • India is a founding member of FAO

About FAO:

  1. The FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security.
  2. Its Latin motto, fiat panis, translates to "let there be bread".
  3. It was founded in 1945.
  4. It completed 75 years of service to humanity on 16th Oct 2020.
  5. The FAO is headquartered in Rome, Italy.
  6. It is composed of 197 member states.
  7. It is governed by a biennial conference representing each member country and the European Union, which elects a 49-member executive council.
  8. The current President of FAO is Director-General QU Dongyu.

Initiatives of FAO:

  1. World Food Summits are convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  2. The first food summit, the "World Food Conference", took place in Rome in 1974.
  3. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is a 1951 multilateral treaty overseen by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Naftali Bennett: The 49-year-old leader of the right-wing Yamina party, Naftali Bennett has become the new Prime Minister of Israel.

Highlights:

  • The Israeli parliament Knesset elected him as the 13th Prime Minister by a 60-59 vote in the 120-member house.
  • The Knesset voted on the new coalition government led by Mr. Bennett. His government has 27 ministers, nine of them women.
  • Mr Bennett will be prime minister until September 2023 as part of a power-sharing deal. He will then hand power over to Yair Lapid for a further two years.
  • With this win, he has ended 12 unbroken years of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the helm.

Background:

  • An eight-party alliance, ranging from the right-wing Jewish Nationalist Yamina party to Arab lawmakers, was formed early this month by centrist politician Yair Lapid centrist and ultra-nationalist Bennett.

About Naftali Bennett:

  • He is son of American-born parents who speaks perfect English.
  • He is a religious Jew who began life with his parents in Haifa.
  • He kept moving between North America and Israel for military service, law school and private sector.
  • He is an ultra-nationalist and & hard-right leader.
  • He served in elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit after which he went to law school at Hebrew University.
  • He co-founded an anti-fraud software company called Cyota in 1999. 
  • Cyota was sold to U.S.-based RSA Security in 2005.
  • He is a religious-nationalist and a multi-millionaire former tech entrepreneur who has also served as defence minister. 
  • He was driven int politics because of a bitter experience of Israel’s 2006 war against Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

India and Israel Ties:

  • India and Israel share a strong bilateral tie since 1950 with Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru reiterating his position to recognise Israel as a state.
  • India’s relationship with Israel has also grown during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration even though India abstaining from voting against Israel in United Nations on several resolutions.
  • It is expected to grow with same pace in new regime as well.
  • Currently, India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment while Israel is second-largest defence supplier to India after Russia.
  • India is the third-largest Asian trade partner and tenth-largest trade partner overall of Israel.

About Israel:

  • Israel formally known as the State of Israel is a country in Western Asia.
  • It is located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea.
  • It is regarded as the biblical Holy Land by Jews, Muslims and christians.
  • Its most sacred sites are in Jerusalem which is also the Capital of Israel.
  • The currency used here is Israeli Shekel.
  • The current President and Prime Minister of Israel are Isaac Herzog Prime Minister and Naftali Bennett respectively.

World Blood Donor Day 2021: World Blood Donor Day is observed on June 14 every year since 2005.

Highlights:

  • The day is observed to express thanks to the blood donors worldwide while also encouraging more people to come forward to donate blood.
  • The Day has the slogan ‘Share Life, Give Blood’, referring to the caring and cohesion that giving blood and caring for others involves.

Host for World Blood Donor Day 2021:

  • The global event will take place in Rome on June 14, 2021.
  • The host for this year's World Blood Donor Day 2021 is Italy through its National Blood Centre.

Theme of 2021:

  • The theme of World Blood Donor Day 2021 is 'Give blood and keep the world beating'.
  • This theme highlights the importance of donating blood and how it can save people's lives around the world. This message is especially important at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge loss of human lives across the planet.

Objective of World Blood Donor Day 2021:

The objective of this year's campaign on World Blood Donor Day 2021 aims:

  • To raise global awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion and of the critical contribution of voluntary, unpaid donors make to national health systems.
  • To thank blood donors of the world and create public awareness of the needy for regular, unpaid blood donation.
  • To provide help to promote the community values of blood donation in enhancing community solidarity and social cohesion.
  • To encourage youth to embrace the humanitarian call to donate blood and inspire others to do the same.
  • To celebrate the potential of young people as partners in promoting health.
  • To provide an opportunity to call to action to governments and national health authorities to provide adequate resources and put into place systems and infrastructures to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors.

World Blood Donor Day History:

  • The birth anniversary of Karl Landsteiner is celebrated as World Blood Donor Day on June 14. This day was first initiated and established on June 14, 2004, by the World Health Organization(WHO) with its 192 member states at the 58th World Health Assembly.
  •  
  • The World Blood Donor Day was first organized by the WHO in collaboration with Red Cross on June 14, 2005.
  • Donor Day has been picked by many countries and is used to spread awareness about the life-saving importance of donating blood.
  • The organization’s ultimate goal is for all counties to achieve all their blood stocks from voluntary unpaid donors.

World Blood Donor Day Significance:

Note: By donating blood you can save someone's life. Blood donation stimulates Blood Cell Production.

  • World Blood Donor Day is observed to spread awareness of the need for voluntary blood donation.
  • During these COVID times, people can do their part by donating blood at their nearest blood banks if they are fit to do so, or create awareness about the issue to encourage others to donate blood.
  • India is one of those countries that experience the highest shortage of blood in the world.
  • According to a study published in The Lancet, India falls short of 41 million units of blood annually.
  • So in order to motivate the free and voluntary blood donors, World Blood Donor Day is an important campaign initiated by WHO.
  • Unavailability of blood on time is what leads to the death of various patients every year.
  • To save those lives, blood donation needs to be encouraged.

UN Trade Forum 2021: Union Minister Piyush Goyal recently attended UN Trade Forum 2021 where he put forward India’s renewed thrust to achieve climate goals in the post-COVID-19 world.

Highlights of the forum:

  • At the forum, Piyush Goyal spoke about a clean environment and sustainable inclusive environment as the priority agenda of the country.
  • He stated that India’s per capita CO2 emission is the lowest among the big economies of the world, and the country’s ambitious target of 450 Gigawatts by 2030 is the representation of commitment towards the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals.
  • He highlighted that, climate justice should be protected and developed countries should reconsider their pattern of consumption to bring about a sustainable lifestyle.
  • According to minister, India has taken several steps on clean energy, energy efficiency, afforestation and bio-diversity.
  • India has also encouraged global initiatives such as International Solar Alliance and coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

About UN Trade Forum:

  • UN Trade Forum was established as a space for dialogue on how trade can be harnessed to get a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable world.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG):

  • SDG are collection of 17 interlinked global goals which are designed to be a blueprint of achieving a better and more sustainable future for all.
  • SDGs were set up in 2015 by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
  • They are intended to be achieved by 2030.
  • SDGs are included in UN Resolution called “2030 Agenda” these goals were developed in Post-2015 Development Agenda as future global development framework and replaced the Millennium Development Goals which ended in 2015.

NATO Summit 2021: The 31st formal meeting of heads of government of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was recently held on June 14, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium.

NATO summit 2021 is also being dubbed as Brussels summit of NATO.

Agenda of the meeting:

  • Major topics under discussion include NATO’s role in a changing geostrategic environment, collective defence, emerging technologies, climate change and security, and other important issues.
  • NATO Leaders took decisions about future of NATO and agreed on concrete measures to adapt NATO in accordance with NATO 2030 agenda.

About NATO:

  • NATO is an acronym for North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  • It is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 North American and European countries.
  • The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949
  • It is headquartered in Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium.

Background:

  • On 4 March 1947, the Treaty of Dunkirk was signed by France and the United Kingdom as a Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance in the event of a possible attack by Germany or the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II.
  • The US, Canada, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Portugal and Iceland joined the treaty in 1949.
  • The first NATO military exercise was held in 1952.
  • NATO was the first peacetime military alliance the United States entered into outside of the Western Hemisphere.

Members:

  • Originally, NATO had 12 members which have increased to 30 now.
  • Most recent member state is North Macedonia which was added to organization on March 27, 2020.
  • Aspiring members include- Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine.

VivaTech 2021: Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the keynote address at the 5th edition of VivaTech on 16th June 2021 via video conferencing.

Highlights:

  • The Prime Minister was invited as a Guest of Honour to deliver the keynote address at VivaTech 2021, one of the largest digital and startup events in Europe, held in Paris every year since 2016.
  • Other prominent speakers in the event included the President of France Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez and ministers and MPs from various European countries.
  • The event also witnessed the participation of corporate leaders including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Chairman and CEO, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and President, Microsoft Brad Smith.

Details:

Speaking on the occasion, PM Modi said that India and France have been working closely on a wide range of subjects. Among these, technology and digital are emerging areas of cooperation.

  • Shri Modi mentioned Infosys providing tech support for the French Open tournament and collaboration involving French companies like Atos, Capgemini and India’s TCS and Wipro as examples of IT talent of the two countries serving companies and citizens all over the world.
  • He pointed out that India implemented huge reforms across sectors, be it mining, space, banking, atomic energy and more during this period and that India is adaptable and agile even in the middle of the pandemic.
  • He pointed out that where convention fails, innovation helps. He said digital technology helped people cope, connect, comfort and console. Through digital media, people could work, talk with loved ones and help others.
  • He stated that India offers what innovators and investors need. He invited the world to invest in India based on the following five pillars:
  1. Talent
  2. Market
  3. Capital
  4. Eco-system
  5. Culture of openness.
  • He said India is home to one of the world’s largest start-up eco systems. Several unicorns have come up in the recent years.
  • The Prime Minister said indigenous IT technologies helped our fight against COVID 19. While Aarogya Setu enabled effective contact-tracing, CoWin platform helped ensure COVID Vaccines to millions.
  • The Prime Minister praised the role of the start-up sector in meeting the challenge of the pandemic. The private sector played a key role in addressing the shortage of PPE kits, masks, testing kits etc. Doctors adopted tele-medicine in a big way so that some COVID and other non-COVID issues could be addressed virtually. 
  • He said two vaccines are being made in India and more are in the development or trial stage.
  • Mr Modi added that Aadhaar helped provide timely support to people during pandemic and free ration, and cooking fuel was delivered to people.
  • He said two public digital education programes- Swayam and Diksha – were operationalised in quick time to help students.
  • Prime Minister stressed the need for insulating planet against the next pandemic. He said focus on sustainable life-styles must be ensured that stop ecological degradation. He called upon the start-up community to take the lead in working with collective spirit and a human centric approach to overcome this challenge.
  • Talking about the disruption in different sector over the past year, the Prime Minister insisted that disruption does not have to mean despair. Instead, the focus should be kept on the twin foundations of repair and prepare. “This time last year, the world was still seeking a vaccine.

About VivaTech:

  • VivaTech is one of the largest digital and startup events in Europe, held in Paris every year since 2016.
  • It is jointly organized by Publicis Groupe - a prominent advertising and marketing conglomerate and Les Echos - a leading French media group.
  • The event brings together stakeholders in technology innovation and the startup ecosystem and includes exhibitions, awards, panel discussions and startup contests.

Biden-Putin Summit: U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have ended their summit in Geneva, chosen as a location for the talks for its history of political neutrality.

Highlights:

Both sides have highlighted opportunities for cooperation but neither expected much improvement in tense relations between Moscow and Washington.

Discussions included arms control and US allegations of Russian cyber-attacks.

However, no major breakthroughs were expected but there were hopes of finding small areas of agreement

Key takeaways from Biden-Putin Summit:

Putin, the first to deliver a solo press conference following their talks, said there was "no hostility" on either side and even went out of his way to flatter Biden, calling him a "very balanced, professional man."

Biden also called the summit "positive" and declared it a success at his later news conference, saying, "I did what I came to do."

Both expressed a desire for a better relationship, but announced no dramatic actions to arrest the downward spiral that has already hurtled them toward the worst U.S.-Russian tensions since the Cold War.

Both men called their meeting positive, but while Biden said he raised serious concerns and warned of consequences, he did not claim he got Putin to commit to changing his behavior and the Russian leader accepted no responsibility for cyberattacks on the U.S. or for anything else.

Backdrop:

  • US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin had held a high-stakes summit at an 18th-century Swiss villa, Villa La Grange in Geneva on June 16, 2021.
  • US President Joe Biden reached Geneva before his first summit with Vladimir Putin amid the escalation of tension between Russia and USA in recent years.
  • Biden flew to Geneva after mending relations with Washington’s closest allies during NATO and G7 summits in Brussels and Britain.
  • This was Biden's first meeting with Putin after he took oath as President of the United States.
  • He has become the fifth US President to meet the Russian President.
  • The meeting comes at a time when the US-Russia relationship is at one of its lowest points.

US-Russia Relation:

  • Relationship between United States (US) and Russia is among most critical bilateral relationships worldwide.
  • Both the countries have shared interests in diverse set of areas including nuclear security & non-proliferation, countering terrorism & violent extremism, regional security in Europe & Eurasia, and managing upheaval in greater Middle East.
  • Russia is also an important partner in U.S. efforts to combat climate change and space exploration.

What are the concerns?

  • United States is critical to Russia as they foil and partner in their efforts to come at global centre stage.
  • Bilateral relations have been rotating between periods of cooperation and confrontation for more than two decades.
  • However, tensions related to conflicts in Ukraine and Syria are troubling the relation.

 World Sickle Cell Day: World Sickle Cell Day is observed every year on June 19 globally.

  • The main aim of observing this day is to raise awareness of sickle cell disorders.
  • The day also highlights the treatment, whether surgical or medicinal, that is available for the patient that is suffering from sickle cell disease.

History:

  • The United Nations General Assembly, on December 22, 2008, adopted a resolution recognizing sickle cell disease as a public health problem.
  • The UN designated June 19 of every year as World Sickle Cell Awareness Day in order to raise awareness about the disorder on the national and international level.
  • Sickle cell disease makes normal life difficult and patients need regular blood transfusions.

About Sickle cell disease (SCD):

  • Sickle cell anemia is a genetic red blood cell disorder.
  • According to the mayoclinic.org., people with sickle cell disorders don't have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
  • SCD is a group of blood disorders that affect a person’s red blood cells.
  • It is a genetic condition that is passed on from parents.
  • The disorder causes normal round and flexible blood cells to become stiff and sickle shaped, which in turn stops the blood cells and the oxygen they carry from moving freely around the body.

Symptoms of sickle cell disorder:

  • Signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia usually appear around five months of age and they vary from person to person and may change over time.
  • Patients with sickle cell disorder suffer from anemia as their red blood cells die easily leading to shortage of healthy cells.
  • The body does not get enough oxygen without adequate red blood cells and this causes fatigue.
  • Episodes of pain are a major symptom of sickle cell anemia but it varies from person to person.
  • It can last for a few hours to a few weeks.
  • Swelling of hands and feet and frequent infections are common.
  • Shortage of healthy red blood cells can lead to slower growth in children.

BIMSTEC Day 2021: The 24th BIMSTEC (the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) day was recently celebrated on June 6, 2021.

It was on this day that BIMSTEC was established in 1997.

Highlights:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his warm greetings on the occasion of 24th BIMSTEC Day.
  • PM Modi acknowledged the progress made by the grouping on several fronts in recent years.
  • He stressed the need to continue to work together in the fight against the pandemic.
  • He also underlined the progress that has been made on several fronts including the finalization of the BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity and the text of the BIMSTEC Charter.

About BIMSTEC:

  • The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organization of seven nations of South Asia and Southeast Asia.
  • BIMSTEC was established to develop technological and economic cooperation in the Southeast Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
  • It also establishes relationship among SAARC and SEAN members.

History:

  • BIMSTEC was established as a grouping of four nations — India, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka — through the Bangkok Declaration on 6 June 1997.
  • It was expanded later to include three more countries — Myanmar, Nepal, and Bhutan.
  • On 31 July 2004, in the first Summit the grouping was renamed as BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.

Aim:

  • BIMSTEC aims to harness shared and accelerated growth through mutual cooperation in different areas of common interests by mitigating the onslaught of globalization and by utilizing regional resources and geographical advantages.

Secretary General of the BIMSTEC:

  • The current Secretary General of the BIMSTEC is Ambassador Tenzin Lekphell from Bhutan.
  • The former Secretary General was Mr. Shahidul Islam from Bangladesh.
  • The First Secretary General was Mr. Sumith Nakandala from Sri Lanka.

World Food Safety Day 2021: The World Food Safety Day is celebrated on June 7 every year to mark the importance of clean and hygienic food.

The day aims to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.

This year, i.e. on June 7, 2021, the global food safety watchdogs are especially highlighting the risks associated with harmful eating practices, in the backdrop of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, which is believed to have begun spreading among humans two years ago from a 'wet market' in China's Wuhan.

Theme of World Food Safety Day 2021:

  • The official theme for World Food Safety Day 2021 is “Safe food today for a healthier tomorrow”.
  • With this theme, the United Nations aims at creating a safe environment where people do not have to worry about the diseases caused by food.
  • They aim at spreading awareness on the topic so that proper measures are taken to provide the people with clean and uncontaminated food and water.
  • The UN believes that the goal can only be achieved when governments, consumers and producers join hands and work collaterally to free the world of foodborne diseases.

History:

  • The World Health Assembly (WHA) passed a resolution on August 3, 2020, to declare June 7 - the World Food Safety Day.
  • Under this programme, The World Health Organization (WHO) collaborated with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to celebrate World Food Safety Day on June 7, every year.
  • The organization believes that food safety subsequently affects national and global growth with a significant impact on the economy and well-being of the people.

5 reasons why food safety is critical:

  • Food security
  • Good health
  • Livelihoods of people globally
  • Economic development
  • Trade

Importance of Food Safety:

Since foodborne diseases are usually invisible to the eye and infectious or toxic in nature, Food safety has a critical role in assuring that food stays safe at every stage of the food chain - from production to harvest, processing, storage, distribution, all the way to preparation and consumption.

A key precaution is preventing contamination through bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances.

Ensuring food safety:

  • Raw food and vegetables must be washed thoroughly
  • Food must be cooked thoroughly
  • Food kept in utensils should be covered
  • Raw and cooked food must be kept separately
  • Food should be kept at safe temperatures
  • Clean water must be used for cooking  

Note: An estimated 420 000 people around the world die every year after eating contaminated food and children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year,” UN notes.

Minimum Global Corporate Tax: G7 (Group of seven) advanced economies recently signed a landmark deal on taxing multinational companies.

The meeting, hosted at an ornate 19th-century mansion near Buckingham Palace in central London, was the first time finance ministers have met face to face since the start of the pandemic.

Key Points:

  • The finance ministers of the world’s most advanced economies met in London and agreed to counter the tax avoidance through the measures in order to make firms pay in the nations where they do business.
  • As per the deal, minimum global tax rate would be at least 15%.
  • Companies will also have to pay more tax in the countries where they make sales.
  • The agreement will now be discussed in detail at a meeting of G20 financial ministers and central bank governors in July 2021.

Minimum Global Tax Rate:

  • Under new tax system, countries where big firms operate would get ‘right to tax’ at least 20% of profits.

Concerns:

  • Ireland with tax rate of 12.5 percent is opposing the deal arguing that it would be disruptive to its economic model.

What are the reasons for the proposal of the new system?

 

  • The old system of global taxation was being criticized over the years as it allowed big companies to save billions of dollars in tax bills by shifting their jurisdictions.
  • Major digital companies were making money in multiple countries and paying taxes only in home country.
  • Thus, this proposal was made which would impose an additional tax on several multinational companies and technology giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google to pay taxes to countries based on where their goods or services are sold irrespective of their physical presence there. The deal seeks to modernize century-old international tax code.
  • According to the Tax Justice Network report, the US Treasury loses nearly $50 billion a year to tax cheats with Germany and France also among the top losers.
  • India too faces annual tax loss due to corporate tax abuse which is estimated at over $10 billion.

Impact on India:

  • India is likely to benefit from global minimum 15% corporate tax rate deal because, effective domestic tax rate is above this threshold and it would continue to attract investment.

About G7:

  • The Group of Seven (G7) is an informal club of wealthy democracies consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • The organization was established on 25 March 1973.
  • The heads of government of the member states, as well as the representatives of the European Union, meet at the annual G7 Summit.
  • Russia joined in 1998, creating the "G8", but was excluded in 2014 for its takeover of Crimea.
  • The G7 leaders aim to address challenges affecting the growth of the world economy, like slowdowns in emerging markets and drops in price of oil.

Background:

  • The first six countries were the original members of the G6.
  • Its first summit was held at Rambouillet, France, in 1975.
  • Canada joined in 1976, making it the G7.

I-Familia: Interpol has recently launched a new global database named “I-Familia”.

I-Familia has been launched to identify missing persons through family DNA.

It will help the police to solve cases in member countries.

About I-Familia:

  • The first of its kind, I-Familia is a global database for identifying missing persons based on international DNA kinship matching.
  • Building on INTERPOL’s long-standing success in direct DNA matching, DNA profiles are submitted by INTERPOL’s 194 member countries to make links between missing persons and cases related to human remains.
  • Interpol applies cutting-edge scientific research using DNA samples from family members to identify missing persons or unidentified human when direct comparison is not possible.
  • I-Familia has three components:
  • A dedicated global database to host the DNA profiles provided by relatives, held separately from any criminal data.
  • DNA matching software called Bonaparte, developed by Dutch company Smart Research.
  • Interpretation guidelines developed by Interpol.

Aim:

  • The driving principle behind I-Familia is humanitarian.
  • Its aim is to reunite loved ones or to bring closure to cases and allow families to rebuild their lives.

About Interpol:

  • The International Police Organization is commonly known as Interpol.
  • It is ‘NOT’ a unit or part of united nation system. It is an independent international organization.
  • It is an international organization facilitating international police cooperation against cross-border terrorism, trafficking, and other crime.
  • It was founded in 1923.
  • It is headquartered in Lyon in France.
  • INTERPOL has 194 member countries, making us the world's largest police organization. State of Palestine is its member.
  • All decisions regarding the activities of INTERPOL are made by the General Assembly which is its supreme governing body which meets annually.

Note:

  • Each country hosts an INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB), which links national police with our global network.
  • In India, CBI is the NCB.

Interpol notices:

  • These are international alert/requests circulated by Interpol allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.
  • There are eight types of notices, seven of which are colour-coded by their function.
  • An eighth Special Notice is issued at the request of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

China Tech Threat: The U.S. Senate voted 68-32 on 8th June 2021 to approve a sweeping package of legislation intended to boost the country's ability to compete with Chinese technology.

China responded to the vote by saying that it objected to being cast as an "imaginary" U.S. enemy.

The bill must pass the House of Representatives to be sent to the White House for Mr Biden to sign into law.

Key Points:

  • This measure approved about $190 billion for provisions of strengthening technology and research in United States.
  • $54 billion was approved to increase US production & research into semiconductors & telecommunications equipment.
  • $2 billion were dedicated to chips used by automakers.

Provisions of the bill:

  • The Bill comprises of a number of China-related provisions.
  • Prohibiting social media app TikTok from being downloaded on government devices.
  • Blocking purchase of drones manufactured and sold by companies backed by Chinese government.
  • Allowing diplomats & Taiwanese military to display their flag and wear their uniforms while in United States on official businesses.
  • Creating broad new sanctions on Chinese entities engaged in U.S. cyberattacks or theft of U.S. intellectual property from U.S. firms.
  • Providing for review of export controls on items which could be support human rights abuses.
  • The bill also seeks to counter Beijing’s growing global influence through diplomacy, by working with allies and increasing U.S. involvement in international organizations after Republican former President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda.

EAGLE Act of 2021: Democrat Representative Zoe Lofgren and Republican John Curtis, introduced the Equal Access to Green cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act of 2021 in the House of Representatives.

A new legislation that aims to remove the country cap for permanent residency visas has been introduced in the US House of Representatives.

What does EAGLE Act say?

The bipartisan act seeks to remove the 7% per-country limit on employment-based immigrant visas.

The per-country limit on family-sponsored visas will also be raised from 7% to 15% under this act.

It provides for a nine-year period for the elimination of this limit.

The 7% limit was introduced in the mid-20th century, which has led countries with relatively small populations to be allocated the same number of visas as a relatively large-population country.

Significance:

It will “benefit the US economy by allowing American employers to focus on hiring immigrants based on their merit, not their birthplace”.

It ensures that "no country may receive more than 25 percent of reserved visa and 85 percent of unreserved visas" in the nine fiscal years.

Benefits of Eagle Act for Indians:

A large proportion of employment‐based visa backlogs comprises Indians.

The bill will be advantageous for Indian job-seekers who currently rely on temporary visas or await green cards to work in the US.

The new law could potentially help Indians who are not able to get green cards due to the country caps and the lottery system in the US.

The think-thank Cato Institute, in March 2020, had reported that 75 per cent of the backlog for employment‐based visas was made up of Indians.

Backlogged Indian workers face an impossible wait of nine decades if they all could remain in the line.

It implies that more than 200,000 petitions filed for Indians could expire as a result of the workers dying of old age before they receive green cards.

New Atlantic Charter: The New Atlantic Charter is an agreement that was signed by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson and the President of the United States Joe Biden on 10 June 2021 at 2021 G7 summit in England.

Highlights:

  • The agreement was signed at the first face-to-face meeting between Johnson and Biden at the 2021 G7 Summit in Cornwall, England.
  • It is a new version of the Atlantic Charter of 1941.

About Atlantic Charter of 1941:

  • Atlantic Charter is a declaration signed in August 1941 (after the end of second world war) by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Charter sets out common goals like free trade, disarmament & right to self-determination of all people.
  • It is often called as a cornerstone of trans-Atlantic special relationship.
  • This charter led to dismantling of British Empire and formation of NATO & General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

 Objectives of New Atlantic Charter:

  • New Atlantic Charter was signed with the objective of defending principles & institutions of democracy and strengthening & adapting the institutions.
  • This agreement seeks to remain united behind principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity & peaceful resolution of disputes.
  • It will also try to maintain collective security & international stability even against cyber threats.  
  • It prioritizes climate change across all international action.

About United Kingdom:

  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK or U.K.) or Britain,is a sovereign country located off the north­western coast of the European mainland.
  • The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north­eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands.
  • It consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, The North Sea, and the Irish Sea.
  • The United Kingdom is a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy.
  • The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the world's longest-serving current head of state.
  • The capital of the United Kingdom is London.
  • The currency used here is Pound sterling.
  • The current Prime Minister of UK is Boris Johnson.

About USA:

  • The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country consisting of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.
  • The 50 states covers a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean.
  • The currency used in USA is United States dollar - USD also abbreviated US$.
  • The capital of US is Washington, D.C.
  • The current President of US is Joe Biden

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC): Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has recently called United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to establish a permanent commission to report on human rights violations in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

The move comes in the wake of the latest surge in violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Proposed Permanent Commission:

  • The Proposed Commission will be an independent, international commission of inquiry.
  • It will be appointed by the UNHRC president to investigate violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Israel and Palestinian areas.
  • The Commission will authorize “commission of inquiry (COI)” which is the highest level of scrutiny.
  • The commission would also investigate all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict including discrimination and repression.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OCI):

  • OIC is the second-largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations.
  • It was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco, in 1969.
  • It is headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
  • It comprises of 57 states as its members.
  • It represents the collective voice of the Muslim world.
  • It works for the protection of the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.

Note: India is not a member of the OIC. However, India was invited as a guest of honour at the 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in 2019.

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR):

  • UNHCR is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world.
  • It was founded on 15 March 2006 by the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251.
  • It replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
  • The UNHRC works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
  • The Council comprises of 47 Member States, which are elected by the UN General Assembly.
  • The Council's Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution.
  • The members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
  • Its main task is to investigate allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states. It also addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of expression, women's rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

Note: India was elected to the Council for a period of three years beginning 1st January 2019.

 

World No-Tobacco Day: Every year, on 31st May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and global partners celebrate World No Tobacco Day (WNTD).

  • The day is celebrated to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.

WNTD Theme of 2021:

  • This year theme of the 2021 WNTD is “Commit to quit.”
  • Under this theme, the WHO aims to promote tobacco cessation through supporting robust tobacco cessation policies, improving access to cessation services, raising awareness about the tactics of the tobacco industry and supporting people who want to quit tobacco via Quit and Win initiatives.

History:

  • In 1987, the World Health Assembly passed Resolution WHA40.38, calling for April 7, 1988, to be "a world no-smoking day."
  • In 1988, Resolution WHA42.19 was passed, calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on May 31.
  • This date was chosen as it was the 40th anniversary of the World Health Organization.
  • World No Tobacco Day has been observed every year on 31st May since 1989.

Aim:

  • This yearly celebration aims to raise awareness amid the global citizens about not only the dangers of using tobacco but also the business practices of tobacco companies, what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.

Facts about tobacco, heart and other cardiovascular diseases:

  • Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) kill more people than any other cause of death worldwide.
  • The use of tobacco and second-hand smoke exposure contribute to approximately 12% of all heart disease deaths.
  • Tobacco use is the second leading cause of CVD, after high blood pressure.
  • The global tobacco epidemic kills more than 7 million people each year, of which close to 900 000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke.
  • Nearly 80% of the more than 1 billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is the  heaviest.

About WHO MPOWER Measures:

The WHO MPOWER measures are in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and can be used by governments to reduce tobacco use and protect people from NCDs. These measures include:

  • Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies.
  • Protecting people from exposure to tobacco smoke by creating completely smoke-free indoor public places, workplaces and public transport.
  • Offering help to quit tobacco (cost-covered, population-wide support, including brief advice by health care providers and national toll-free quit lines).
  • Warning about the dangers of tobacco by implementing plain/standardized packaging, and/or large graphic health warnings on all tobacco packages, and implementing effective anti-tobacco mass media campaigns that inform the public about the harms tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure.
  • Enforcing comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • Raising taxes on tobacco products and make them less affordable.

About WHO:

  • World Health Organization (WHO) was created in 1948 by member states of the United Nations (UN) as a specialized agency with a broad mandate for international public health.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The main objective of WHO is "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible standard of health." It plays an essential role in the global governance of health and disease.
  • Its mission is to improve people's lives, to reduce the burdens of disease and poverty, and to provide access to responsive health care for all people.
  • The WHO is governed by two decision-making bodies, the World Health Assembly and the Executive Board.
  • The current Director-general of WHO is Tedros Adhanom.

 

World Milk Day 2021: The World Milk Day is observed every year on 1 June to recognize the importance of milk as a global food.

The main objective of this day is to focus on activities that are connected to the dairy sector.

History:

  • The World Milk Day was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 2001.
  • The date, 1 June was chosen because many countries were observing the milk day during that time of the year.
  • Since then, the benefits of milk and dairy products have been active through campaigns, events, and programs across the world.

Theme:

  • The theme of World Milk Day 2021 is “sustainability in the dairy sector with messages on nutrition”.
  • Amid the pandemic, the theme focuses on sustainability in the dairy sector along with empowering the environment, nutrition, and socio-economic.
  • The objective is to spread the importance of milk and dairy products in the diet regularly.

Significance of World Milk Day 2021:

  • Despite being a great source of nutrition for millions of people, milk and dairy products are also a means of livelihood.
  • Looking into economical value and standards, the dairy products market is an important component of the global economy.

Significance of Dairy Sector in India:

  • The day also notifies special importance for India as it is one of the largest producers of milk across the world.
  • Dairy sector supports livelihoods of millions of people in the country.

Additional Info:

White Revolution in India:

  • White Revolution in India was started by Dr Verghese Kurein in 1970.
  • He is therefore known as “Father of the White Revolution” in India.
  • He is known for his efforts in turning India into largest producer from milk deficient country.
  • He led to establishment of institutions like Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd and National Dairy Development Board.
  • Both of these institutions played a significant role in shaping Dairy Cooperative movement.

Film Manthan:

  • Manthan was made with the efforts of Dr Kurien in 1976.
  • It was directed by Shyam Benegal while script of film was written by Dr Kurien and Vijay Tendulkar.
  • About 500,000 farmers donated ₹ 2 to produce Manthan. It traces the origins of largest dairy development programme of world.

 

World Bicycle Day: United Nations celebrates World Bicycle Day on 3rd June every year.

Highlights:

  • World Bicycle Day is observed to advance the use of the bicycle as a means of fostering sustainable development and also as cycling has tremendous health benefits for all age groups, according to experts.
  • The day aims to strengthen education for children and young people, preventing disease, promoting health, promoting tolerance, mutual understanding and respect and facilitating social inclusion and a culture of peace.
  • It also aims to promote the bicycle among all members of society.
  • It is observed every year to encourage member nations to give particular attention to the bicycle in cross-cutting development strategies and to improve road safety and integrate it into sustainable mobility and transport infrastructure planning and design.

History:

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared June 3 every year as World Bicycle Day in April 2018. Leszek Sibilski's crusade and the support of Turkmenistan and 56 other countries to recognize World Bicycle Day resulted in the creation of the Day. Numerous activities are held across the world on this day, including at UCI's own World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle.

Benefits of Bicycling:

  • Bicycling is a simple, reliable, and environmentally beneficial way of transportation.
  • Bikes are free to ride and a stress-free mode of travel.
  • The bicycle can serve as a tool for personal development as well as a means of gaining access to education, health care, and sports.
  • The bicycle is a symbol of environmentally friendly transportation that also saves money on gas.
  • Bicycling contributes to mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions as it possesses an intrinsic zero-emission value.

Interesting facts about the bicycles:

  • The concept of the bicycle was laid down by Karl Drais in 1818.
  • But this bicycle was quite heavy.
  • In the year 1839, Kirkpatrick Macmillan, a blacksmith by profession, introduced the pedals and the bicycle got its first and the most important feature.
  • In 1866, the first American patent application was filed by Pierre Lallement for the pedal bicycle.
  • Harry Lawson and English engineer designed the Safety Bicycle in 1876.
  • Since then, this is the most common bicycle option available.

 

Isaac Herzog: Veteran Israeli politician, Isaac Herzog, has been elected as the President of the country.

Highlights:

  • He was elected on June 01, 2021, during the 120 members parliamentary election for 2021.
  • The 60-year-old Herzog will be the 11th President of Israel, assuming office with effect from July 09, 2021.
  • He will be succeeding Reuven Rivlin, who is set to complete his tenure in July 2021 after seven years in office.

About Isaac Herzog:

  • He is a former Labor leader who will be the first Israeli President who is the son of a former president.
  • His father Chaim Herzog served as Israel’s Head of State between 1983 and 1993.
  • He is currently the head of the Jewish Agency – a nonprofit that works with the government to promote immigration to Israel.
  • He has served as a lawmaker in the Israeli Knesset between 2003 and 2018, also serving as minister with various portfolios.
  • His grandfather, Rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Herzog, was both the first chief rabbi of Ireland, for over a decade, and then Ashkenazi chief Rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine from 1936 until 1959.
  • The President-elect began his political career as the Cabinet Secretary to Prime Minister Ehud Barak between 1999 and 2000.

About Israel:

  • Israel formally known as the State of Israel is a country in Western Asia.
  • It is located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea.
  • It is regarded as the biblical Holy Land by Jews, Muslims and Christians.
  • Its most sacred sites are in Jerusalem which is also the Capital of Israel.
  • The currency used here is Israeli Shekel.
  • The current President and Prime Minister of Israel is Benjamin Netanyahu.

China's Family Planning Policy: China on 31 May 2021 relaxed its family planning policy, allowing couples to have up to three children.

Key Highlights:

  • The decision to increase the existing limit of two children was taken at a Politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping.
  • The decision came after a Census, conducted every 10 years, showed that China’s population grew at its slowest rate in decades. In the last 10 years, the population rose by only 72 million, or 7.2 crore.
  • As per the decision, the policy change will come with "supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving China’s population structure, fulfilling the country's strategy of actively coping with an ageing population".

Background:

  • China implemented its one-child policy which had been imposed in the late 1970s to control a population explosion.
  • It was enforced in a variety of ways, including financially incentivizing families to have only one child, making contraception widely available, and imposing sanctions on those who violated the policy.
  • It was scrapped in 2016 to allow couples to have two children.
  • However, experts believed that the two-child policy did not have the effect needed to counter the ageing problem.

About China:

  • China, officially the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia.
  • It is governed by the Communist Party of China.
  • It is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), and the second-largest defense budget.
  • The capital of China is Beijing.
  • The currency used here is Yuan (CNY) and Renminbi (RMB).
  • The Yuan is the unit of account of the country's economic and financial system while Renminbi is the official currency of China where it acts as a medium of exchange.
  • The current President of china is Xi Jinping.

 

International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression: The International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression is observed globally on 4th June every year.

  • This day affirms the UN’s commitment to guard the rights of children.
  • It is sad reality that in some situations children are affected and violations that occur may be use of children in war, killing, sexual violence, abduction, attacks on schools etc.
  • This day is to acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the planet who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse.

Aim:

  • The main aim of celebrating today is to spread the notice about the pain and sufferings faced by the victims as children.
  • This day affirms the UN's commitment to protect the rights of children.
  • Its work is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.

History:

  • On August 19, 1982, during an emergency session on the question of Palestine, the UN General Assembly, appalled at the amount of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese child victims of Israel’s acts of aggression, decided to commemorate 4 June of every year because of the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression.

Current International Events - May 2021

Nepal Political Crisis: Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari, on 22 May 2021 dissolved the Parliament and fixed general elections in November amid a worsening COVID-19 outbreak.

Highlights:

The decision was taken on the recommendations of cabinet headed by caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

Fresh elections will be held in November 2021.

As per the presidential statement, neither the caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, nor opposition leader Sher Bahadur Deuba were able to demonstrate a majority to form a new government by the Friday deadline set by Bhandari.

Article 76 (7) of the Constitution of Nepal:

  • President gets power to dissolve House of Representatives or Parliament from Article 76 (7) of the Constitution of Nepal.
  • Article 76 (7) of the Constitution of Nepal states, Prime Minister can dissolve the house of representatives and announce a new date to conduct election within six months when the Prime Minister appointed under Clause (5) fails to own vote of confidence or when no member can be appointed as Prime Minister.

What was the reason for dissolving the Parliament?

  • Bidhya Devi Bhandari dissolved the parliament after considering the claims of support by both the sides. KP Sharma Oli had claimed of having support of 153 lawmakers including members of Janata Samajbadi Party.
  • On the other hand, Nepali Congress President Deuba claimed to have the support of 149 parliamentarians.
  • Both the claims did not comply because Nepal’s house of representatives is constituted of 275 members.

Political crisis in Nepal:

  • The political crisis in Nepal started in May 2018 when KP Sharma Oli-led CPN-UML & National Communist Party got merged and decided to serve as joint chairmen of ruling party.
  • CPN-UML was the largest party in House of Representatives but increasing disputes within the ruling part resulted in split again.
  • Following the split, in December 2020, Prachanda-led party expelled Prime Minister Oli as co-Chair and Prachanda was made the first Chairman.
  • In 2020, house of representatives was dissolved but was reinstated again following the order of Supreme Court in 2021.
  • However, recently on May 10, 2021 Prime Minister Oli lost the vote of confidence and the house stands dissolved.

74th World Health Assembly: Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan recently chaired the 74th World Health Assembly virtually.

Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr Tedros was also present on the occasion.

Note: Dr Harsh Vardhan is the Chairman of WHO Executive Board.

Key Points At the Meet:

  • Dr Harsh Vardhan noted that the Board called for further efforts to ensure fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility.
  • He said, the Board engaged in discussions on COVID-19 impact on global health.
  • The Board recommended that the 74th World Health Assembly must consider the report on mental health preparedness and response for the Covid-19 pandemic. It also recommended endorsing the updated comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan for the period of 2013 to 2030.
  • The Board also encouraged WHO to work closely with the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization to identify the zoonotic source of the virus.
  • Dr. Harsh Vardhan has said, the Board decided to encourage Member States to take further action to address diabetes as a public health problem.
  • He said, the Board has recommended that the 74th World Health Assembly should adopt a decision to present a road map for the global action plan for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases till the year 2030.

About WHO:

  • It is an acronym for World Health Organization.
  • WHO was created in 1948 by member states of the United Nations (UN) as a specialized agency with a broad mandate for international public health.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The main objective of WHO is "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible standard of health." It plays an essential role in the global governance of health and disease.
  • Its mission is to improve people's lives, to reduce the burdens of disease and poverty, and to provide access to responsive health care for all people.
  • The WHO is governed by two decision-making bodies, the World Health Assembly and the Executive Board. The current Director-general of WHO is Tedros Adhanom.

Vineyard Wind Project: In US, President Joe Biden's administration has recently approved the nation's first major offshore wind farm, billing it as the launch of a new domestic energy industry that will help eliminate emissions from the power sector.

 

Key Points:

  • The environmental review of the Vineyard Wind project as part of the administration's broad plan to speed renewable energy development on federal lands and waters will be resumed by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
  • This approval is in line with U.S. President Biden's broader agenda to combat global climate change by decarbonizing the nation's economy.
  • The approved Vineyard Wind project will be located 14 miles (23 km) off the coast of Massachusetts.
  • The project is a significant milestone in the more than decade-long effort to permit a commercial-scale offshore wind project in U.S. waters.

Significance:

  • The project is intended to create enough electricity to power 400,000 homes.
  • The project will begin delivering electricity to the grid in the second half of 2023.
  • The project is meant to create 3,600 jobs, delivering on Biden's campaign promise that fighting climate change by expanding clean energy sources will boost employment.

United States (US):

  • The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country consisting of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.
  • The 50 states covers a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean.
  • The currency used in USA is United States dollar - USD also abbreviated US$.
  • The capital of US is Washington, D.C.
  • The current President of US is Joe Biden

International Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories: United Nations (UN) is observing “International Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories” from May 25 to 31, 2021.

Aim:

The main aim of observing International Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGT) is a follows:

  • To take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the peoples of the NSGT to their natural resources, including land.
  • To establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources.
  • Requesting the Administering Powers to take all necessary steps to protect the property rights of the peoples of those Territories.

Chapter XI of the UN Charter – the Declaration regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories – provides that Member States administering Territories, which have not attained self-government recognize “that the interests of the inhabitants of these Territories are paramount” and accept as a “sacred trust” the obligation to promote their well-being.

History:

  • On December 06, 1999, the UN General Assembly called for the annual observance of the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGT).

What is NSGT?

In UN Charter, a Non-Self-Governing Territory (NSGT) is defined as a Territory “whose people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government.”

Background:

  • In 1946, several UN Member States identified a number of Territories under their administration that were not self-governing and placed them on a UN list. Countries administering Non-Self-Governing Territories are called administering Powers. 
  • However, as a result of the decolonization process over the years, most of the Territories were removed from the list.
  • Fifty Four Territories acquired self-government from 1960 to 2002.
  • At present, there are 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining.

International Day to End Obstetric Fistula: United Nations (UN) International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is observed every year on 23rd May since 2013.

Highlights:

  • The theme 2021: “Women’s rights are human rights! End fistula now!”.
  • The day is being observed to significantly raise awareness and intensify actions towards ending obstetric fistula, as well as urging post-surgery follow-up and tracking of fistula patients.
  • The day aims to promote action towards treating and preventing obstetric fistula, a condition that affects many girls and women during childbirth in developing countries.

History:

  • In 2003 the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and its partners launched the global Campaign to End Fistula, a collaborative initiative to prevent fistula and restore the health of those affected by the condition.
  • The day was officially recognized in 2012.

About Obstetric fistula:

  • Obstetric fistula is an injury that can occur during childbirth.
  • It is a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum caused by prolonged, obstructed labour without treatment.
  • The condition typically leaves women incontinent, and as a result they are often shunned by their communities.
  • Sufferers often endure depression, social isolation and deepening poverty.

Note: An estimated 2 million women in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Arab region, and Latin America and the Caribbean are living with this injury, and some 50,000 to 100,000 new cases develop each year.

Prevention of Obstetric fistula:

  • Obstetric fistula is preventable. It can be avoided by delaying the age of first pregnancy, the cessation of harmful traditional practices and timely access to obstetric care.

About UNFPA:

  • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities is a UN agency aimed at improving reproductive and maternal health worldwide.
  • It promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity.
  • There are close links between sustainable development, reproductive health and gender equality.
  • It was founded in 1969.
  • It is headquartered in New York, New York, United States.
  • The current head of UNFPA is Natalia Kanem.

Guillermo Lasso: Guillermo Lasso, a conservative, assumed presidency of Ecuador on May 24, 2021 and has become first right-wing leader in 14 years in Ecuador.

Highlights:

  • The 65-year-old former banker was sworn in the office by Guadalupe Llori, the President of the National Assembly.
  • He has become the 47th President of Ecuador.
  • CREO right-wing Guillermo Lasso had won Ecuador’s Presidential Elections 2021 with over 52% of votes against Andres Arauz.
  • He will take over Ecuador at a time when the country is battling health and economic crisis.
  • His first challenge will be rejuvenation of an economy that has contracted by 7.8 percent in 2020 and the overall debt stands at 63 percent of GDP is the major challenge before the new President.
  • Furthermore, Ecuador is battling economic and health crises as covid-19 has infected about 420,000 people and killed more than 20,000.

 About Guillermo Alberto:

  • His full name is Guillermo Alberto Santiago Lasso Mendoza.
  • He is a banker, businessman, writer and politician who recently became the 47th president of Ecuador.
  • He is the first centre-right president in two decades.
  • In 1998, Lasso became the Governor of Guayas, Ecuador Later in 2003; he was named as the Ecuadorian Itinerant Ambassador.

 About Ecuador:

  • Ecuador, officially the Republic of Ecuador is a country in northwestern South America.
  • Ecuador is named after the Equator, the imaginary line around the Earth that splits the country in two. Most of the country is in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • It is not a landlocked country and is surrounded by Colombia to the north, Peru to the east & south, and Pacific Ocean to the west.
  • Galapagos Islands in Pacific is also a part of Ecuador.
  • The capital of Ecuador is Quito.
  • The currency used here is United States Dollar.
  • It is a founding member of United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement and Organization of American States.
  • It is the first country in world to recognize rights of nature or ecosystem rights through Constitution of Ecuador in 2008.

Collinet Makosso: The President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso has recently appointed Anatole Collinet Makosso as the country’s Prime Minister.

Key facts:

  • He replaced Clement Mouamba who resigned on May 4, along with his entire government team.
  • Before this appointment, Makosso was the education minister of the Central African country.
  • Since 2016, he has held the position of Minister of Primary and Secondary Education in charge of literacy.
  • He was also minister of youth and civic instruction from 2011 to 2016.
  • Mr Collinet Makosso was the deputy campaign manager of candidate Sassou Nguesso during the last presidential election.

Republic of the Congo:

  • The Republic of the Congo, also called Congo-Brazzaville or the Congo Republic or simply either Congo or the Congo, is a country located in the western coast of Central Africa.
  • To the west lies Gabon; Cameroon to its northwest and the Central African Republic to its northeast; the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southeast and the Angolan exclave of Cabinda to its south; and the Atlantic Ocean to its southwest.
  • Its capital city is Brazzaville which lies across the Congo River from Kinshasa, the capital of neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The currency used here is Congolese franc.
  • The current President of Republic of Congo is Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Ricochet Impact: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently warned about Ricochet impact of the crisis on the developed and advanced economies.

Key Points:

  • According to International Monetary Fund (IMF), Emerging-market nations’ struggle to move out of covid-19 pandemic-induced economic crisis can hurt developed nations.
  • IMF suggests that, developed nations should ensure that rapid support is available to impacted countries through emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance.
  • Poorer nations are facing the risk of increasing interest rates even though, their economies aren’t growing.

What is Ricochet Impact?

  • Ricochet means rebound, bounce, or skip off from surface, particularly in projectile cases.

International Monetary Fund (IMF):

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an institution in the United Nations system.
  • IMF is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
  • It comprises of 190 countries.
  • The IMF focuses on macroeconomic and financial stability issues and work together to boost global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, promote high employment, facilitate international trade, and sustainable economic growth.
  • It also takes measures to reduce poverty across the world.
  • It was set up in 1944 but started functioning in 1945 at Britton Woods Conference.
  • IMF pays an important role in management of balance of payments issues and international financial crises.

U.S. fuel shortage 2021: The Colonial Pipeline announced that it has returned its systems to “normal operations”.

About:

  • A cyberattack forced the company to shut down last week, leading to gas shortages in the United States.
  • Ships and trucks were deployed to fill up storage tanks after the six-day Colonial Pipeline shutdown, the most disruptive cyberattack on record, triggered widespread panic buying that left filling stations across the U.S. Southeast dry.
  • Colonial was shut on 14th May 2021 after hackers launched a ransomware attack - effectively locking up its computer systems and demanding payment to release them.

2021 US Gas Shortage Highlights:

  • There are 121,000 stores in the US that sell 5,300 gallons of gasoline per day. They accounted to 80% of fuel sales. The demand in these stores increased two to five times.
  • The National average price of One Gallon of Gasoline increased by 3 USD for the first time since 2016.
  • Around 75% of gas stations in Washington DC were without fuel after the cyberattack.
  • More than half of North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia were out of fuel.Several gas stations were lined up with more than five to six trucks.
  • The American Airlines had to change flight schedules due to fuel shortages.
  • The US agencies coordinated to relax the rules to increase the trucks, ships and trains that shipped fuel.
  • However, these changes brought only minimal impacts.
  • President US Biden declared state of emergency to handle the fuel shortages amidst COVID-19 crisis.

DarkSide:

  • The strike on Colonial “is potentially the most substantial and damaging attack on U.S. critical infrastructure ever.
  • The FBI has accused a shadowy criminal gang called DarkSide of the ransomware attack.
  • DarkSide is believed to be based in Russia or Eastern Europe and avoids targeting computers that use languages from former Soviet republics.

Colonial Pipeline:

  • The Colonial Pipeline delivers approximately 100 million gallons of fuel per day and about 36 billion gallons per year to the markets it serves.
  • It delivers 45% of fuel to the East Coast of the US.
  • It runs from the Gulf coast to New York metropolitan region.
  • Only the south east region of the US is more dependent on this line.
  • The rest of the country has different sources.
  • Colonial was forced to shut down operations after a cyberattack crippled its energy infrastructure.

International Day of Light (IDL): The International Day of Light is celebrated on 16 May each year, the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer, Theodore Maiman.

  • The message of 2021 International Day of Light is “Trust Science

 

Key Points:

  • The IDL is administered from the International Basic Science Programme (IBSP) of UNESCO, and its Secretariat is located at the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP) at Trieste, Italy.
  • The day celebrates the role light plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy, thus helping achieve the UNESCO goals of education, equality, and peace.
  • The LASER is a perfect example of how a scientific discovery can yield revolutionary benefits to society in communications, healthcare and many other fields.

Why is the IDL celebrated?

  • In 2015, to raise global awareness of the achievements of light science and its applications, the UN observed the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015).
  • The event helped establish links and collaborations between decision-makers, industry leaders, scientists, artists, social businesses, NGOs, and the public at large.
  • Following the success of IYL 2015, Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand and Russia placed a resolution before the UNESCO Executive Board supporting the idea of an International Day of Light.
  • It was adopted on September 19, 2016, at the Board’s 200th session at the UNESCO HQ in Paris, France.
  • The Board decision was endorsed by the UNESCO General Conference at its 39th session on November 7, 2017.
  • The first IDL was held on May 16, 2018.

Theodore Harold Maiman:

  • Theodore Harold Maiman (July 11, 1927 – May 5, 2007) was an American engineer and physicist who is widely credited with the invention of the laser.
  • His laser led to the subsequent development of many other types of lasers.
  • The laser was successfully fired on May 16, 1960.
  • In a July 7, 1960 press conference in Manhattan, Maiman and his employer, Hughes Aircraft Company, announced the laser to the world.
  • Maiman was granted a patent for his invention.
  • He received many awards and honors for his work.
  • His experiences in developing the first laser and subsequent related events are recounted in his book, The Laser Odyssey, republished recently under a new title The Laser Inventor: Memoirs of Theodore H. Maiman.

WTISD: It refers to the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.

  • WTISD is an international day   celebrated annually on 17th May since 1969.
  • The day is observed to raise awareness about the use of the internet as it can bridge the gap between society and economies and the digital divide.
  • This day also highlights the importance of communication in our lives through various means of technology.

Note: The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the critical role of information and communication technologies more than ever.

The theme for World Telecommunication Day and Society Day 2021:

  • The theme for this year is “Accelerating Digital Transformation in challenging times”, throughout the year with national, regional, and international initiatives to accelerate digital transformation.
  • The theme focuses on the critical role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for societies during the difficult pandemic times that people are facing currently.

History:

  • The day had previously been known as 'World Telecommunication Day' to commemorate the founding of the International Telecommunication Union on 17 May 1865.
  • On this day, the 1st international telegraph convention was signed in Paris.
  • It was instituted by the Plenipotentiary Conference in Malaga-Torremolinos in 1973.
  • World Information Society Day (WISD) was an international day proclaimed to be on 17 May by a United Nations General Assembly resolution, following the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis.
  • In November 2006, the UN General Assembly fixed a date to observe WISD on 17 May every year. During that same year, the ITU in a conference came up with an idea to combine both celebrations as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) as one.

About ITU:

  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations (UN) information and communication technology specialized agency.
  • It was established in 1865 to promote international connectivity in communication networks.
  • The agency allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, formulate technical standards to ensure the seamless interconnection of networks and technologies, and strive to improve the global community’s access to low-level services ICT access.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The ITU is also the oldest of all the UN Specialized Agencies.

UNGRSW 2021: UNGRSW stands for UN Global Road Safety Week.

  1. The United Nations is celebrating its 6th UNGRSW between 17th May, 2021 and 23rd May, 2021.
  2. The week is celebrated to create awareness of road safety and reduce road deaths.
  3. This year, in 2021, the Global Road Safety Week is celebrated under the following theme:
  • Theme: Streets for Life
  • The tagline of the theme is #Love30 which calls for 30 km/h (20 mph) speed limits to be the norm for cities, towns and villages worldwide.

Global Plan on Road Safety:

  1. As a part of 2021 Global Road Safety Week, United Nations launched the Decade Plan of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030.
  2. It is a global plan on road safety.
  3. The plan is in line with the Stockholm Declaration.
  4. This calls for improving laws, designing rods and vehicles and law enforcement on behavioral risks such as alcohol, speeding and driving.

About Global Road Safety Week:

  1. Global Road Safety Week is a biennial global road safety campaign hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  2. The first Global Road Safety Week was celebrated in 2007.
  3. It brings together individuals, governments, NGOs, corporations, and other organizations from around the world to raise awareness of road safety and make changes that will reduce the number of road deaths.

COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act: The United States (US) Senate recently passed a hate crimes bill to counter a rise in the anti-Asian Hate Crimes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlights:

  • The bill was passed on May 18, 2021, with 364-62 vote with 62 Republicans voting against the bill.
  • It must pass the House of Representatives, where Democrats hold a clear majority.
  • President Joe Biden has called for passage.

Background:

  • The legislation, known as the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, was introduced by Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Democratic-Republican Grace Meng of New York.
  • In April 2021, the legislation passed the Senate by an overwhelming vote of 94-1.

What are the reasons for introduction of the hate crime bill?

The following are the reason for introduction of Hate Crime Bill.

  • The passage of the bill has come in the view of growing hate crimes against the Asian-American community in the US.
  • The passage of the anti-Asian hate crimes bill has come less than 2 months after a gunman had killed eight people in three Asian-owned spas in the greater Atlanta. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent.
  • On May 18, the US House also planned to pass a separate resolution condemning the massacre in Georgia on March 16, 2021.

About COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act:

  • The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act passed to prevent hate crimes against Asians will create a new position at the Justice Department to speed up the review of the potential COVID-19 related hate crimes and incidents reported at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • It will also direct the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to work with the community-based organizations for issuing guidance raising awareness of the hate crimes during the pandemic.
  • The newly passed bill will also require the US attorney general to issue the guidance to work with the local and state law enforcement agencies for establishing online reporting of them.

ITD: It refers to the International Tea Day.

 The motto for celebrating ITD every year is “Harnessing Benefits for all From Field to Cup”.

  • ITD is observed every year on May 21.
  • May has been selected because the season of quality tea production starts in May in most of the tea producing countries.
  • Tea production and processing around the world are the main source of livelihood for millions of families, particularly in developing countries.
  • ITD is for celebrating tea - central to so many cultures.
  • It contributes to the employment of millions of people. Whether you are sleepy, tired, cold or worried - a cup of tea can be the perfect solution.

 History:

  • The first ITD was held in New Delhi in 2005.
  • The United Nations declared May 21 as International Tea Day after Indian government moved a proposal at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Intergovernmental Group (IGG) on Tea expanding the observance of International Tea Day through UN FAO.

Objective:

The main objective of celebrating this day is as follows:

  • To boost its production and consumption,
  • To help in fighting hunger and poverty in rural areas 
  • To improve the condition of the tea producers and tea workers.
  • Empowerment of women
  • It seeks to encourage the status of tea workers, daily wages, social security, employment security, health and workers' rights
  • The sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development:

Moreover, there is an urgent need to raise public awareness of the importance of tea for rural development and sustainable livelihoods and to improve the tea value chain to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Some Interesting Facts About Tea:

  1. Tea is a beverage made from the Camellia sinesis plant.
  2. Tea is one of the world's oldest beverages and most popular after water.
  3. Records suggest that tea had originated in northeast India, north Myanmar and in southwest China.
  4. There is evidence that tea was consumed in China some 5,000 years ago.
  5. Tea plantations provide employment to millions of growers and tea estate workers worldwide.
  6. The production and processing of tea are among the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SGDs.
  7. The tea industry helps in fighting poverty and hunger.
  8. It contributes to the empowerment of women and the sustainable use of ecosystems.
  9. While more than half of the tea produced is consumed locally, it is widely traded and exported.
  10. Over the years, the tea industry worldwide has seen rapid growth.
  11. In some of the largest tea producing countries, the per capita consumption of tea is low, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO)
  12. There are many health benefits linked to drinking tea. Tea is believed to be anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant and green tea is known to be good for weight loss.

Tea producing states of India:

India is the second largest tea producing country after China. Also, India is the largest consumer of tea in the world with its consumption around 30% of global tea output.

The majorly producing teas states are Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Sikkim, Nagaland, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Bihar, Odisha.

About Tea in Nepal and Darjeeling:

Darjeeling and Nepal are known for some of the finest teas in the world.

First Flush tea:

  • The first flush arrives in spring - between mid-March and May.
  • This variety of tea is clear, light and extremely aromatic.
  • It commands the highest price in international markets.

Second Flush Tea:

  • The second or summer flush arrives between June and mid-August.
  • This is a darker tea and has a stronger flavour.

Third Flush Tea:

  • The third or autumn flush arrives in October and November.
  • This variety of tea is dark and quite strong.

Additional Info:

  • From the world finest tea - Makaibari tea grows in Makaibari Tea Estate located Kurseong subdivision of the Darjeeling district in the Indian state of West Bengal.
  • The makabari tea factory is the world's first tea factory that was established in 1859.
  • Makaibari Tea Estate was the first garden to be certified for trade in the world.
  • It was one of the first few to be awarded fair trade certifications. In 1988 it was the first garden to be awarded/ certified as the fully organic tea garden estate.

Moctar Ouane: Moctar Ouane has recently been reappointed as Prime Minister of Mali.

Key Points:

  • He was appointed as Prime Minister of the caretaker government in August 2020 after the removal of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
  • Ouane will have to form a new government with room for the political class, under the instructions of President Bah N’Daw.
  • In April 2021, Mali’s interim government had announced that it would hold a constitutional referendum on October 31 and an election in February 2022.
  • Mali is facing a political crisis due to disputed legislative elections and economic crisis due to economic stagnation, corruption, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

About Mali:

  • Mali officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa mostly in the Saharan and Sahelian regions.
  • The sovereign state of Mali consists of eight regions and its borders on the north reach deep into the middle of the Sahara Desert, while the country's southern part, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Senegal rivers.
  • The capital of Republic of Mali is Bamako.
  • The currency used here is West African CFA franc.

Victory Day 2021: On May 9, 2021, Russia marked the 76th anniversary of victory in World War II.

  • A military parade was held at the Red Square of Moscow. 
  • Victory Day is celebrated in Russia to mark the surrender of Germans in the Second World War.
  • This parade is being held every year on May 9 since 1995.
  • The parade is called “Moscow Victory Day Parade”.
  • The Victory Day Parade became an annual event only after the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991.

Note: Red Square is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1990.

History:

  • Victory Day marks the end of World War II and the victory of the Allied Forces in 1945. Adolf Hitler had shot himself on April 30.
  • On May 7, German troops surrendered, which was formally accepted the next day, and came into effect on May 9.
  • In 1945, the Soviet Armed Forces held a military parade in Red Square after defeating the Nazi Army.
  • This was the longest and largest military parade held in Red Square.
  • More than 40,000 soldiers and 1,850 military vehicles participated in the parade.
  • The parade was held in June 24, 1945.
  • It was held a month after the Germans surrendered to the Soviet Commanders.
  • The Germans surrendered on May 9, 1945.

German Instrument of Surrender:

  • The German Instrument of Surrender was signed in Reims on May 7, 1945 by the Chief of Staff of the Germans, Alfred Jodi.
  • Another Instrument of Surrender was signed in May 9, 1945 in the outskirts of Berlin.
  • Both the instrument of surrender stipulated that the German forces will cease active operations.
  • While the second Instrument of Surrender was signed, it was late night in Germany but was the next morning in Soviet Union.
  • Therfore, Russia celebrates Moscow Victory Day on May 9th and East Germany observed it on May 8th as the Liberation Day.

New Era of Genetic Weapons: It is a Chinese document written in 2015 states that SARS virus shall be used as a “New Era of Genetic Weapons”.

Amid the ongoing second surge of Covid-19 pandemic, a document has been obtained that was written by the Chinese scientists and health officials in 2015 on the novel coronavirus.

The document has been reported by an Australian newspaper named as ‘Weekend Australian’.

Contents of the document:

  • A Chinese document written in 2015 states that SARS virus shall be used as a “New Era of Genetic Weapons”.
  • The virus can be artificially manipulated into a human virus disease, then weaponized and unleashed (released from restraint).
  • The title of the Chinese document was “The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New species of Man-Made Virus as Bioweapons”.
  • The paper also says that the world war three shall be fought with biological weapons.

 Authenticity of the documents:

  • The document was authored by PLA researchers and scientists.
  • The genesis of the document was located in the Chinese internet.
  • The document has also been revealed in an upcoming book called “What really happened in Wuhan”.

International response:

  • Countries such as US, Brazil, Australia have made strong statements against actions after the release of the report.
  • The countries are furious that Chinese actions on COVID were merely based on economic benefits.

Origin of the Virus:

  • China is being questioned over the handling of COVID-19 since it originated in Wuhan in 2019.
  • Some believe that it originated in a market where wild animals are traded.
  • Others believe that the virus leaked in a lab in Wuhan.

Lack of Transparency:

  • The executive director of Australian Strategic Policy Institute Peter Jennings has informed that the document might reveal why China has been reluctant for investigations into the origins of Covid-19.
  • China was not ready to allow the World Health Organization to conduct investigations about the origin of COVID-19 virus.
  • Only after international pressure did China allow WHO to make investigations to find out the origin.
  • Even after the outbreak of the disease in Wuhan in 2019, China was silent.
  • It did not inform the WHO about disease.
  • China also was not able to contain the disease.

The Pandemic:

  • The pandemic has been caused by a virus named SARS-Co V-2 which came up in December 2019 that causes respiratory diseases in human beings, ranging from a common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
  • According to the Johns Hopkins University, the overall global Covid-19 caseload has topped 157.9 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 3.28 million.

Additional Info:

  • China was also silent about the recent failure of Tianhe core module and its rocket Long March 5B falling in to the Indian Ocean.
  • Though the mission failed, the details of the returning rocket and how and where will it fall was not disclosed.
  • Just recently, remnants of China’s largest rocket ‘Long March 5B’ launched last month plunged back through the atmosphere on 9 May 2021.
  • It landed in the Indian Ocean, west of the Maldives bringing an end to the speculations surrounding its place of fall on the earth.
  • At 18 tonnes, it was one of the largest space debris that re-entered the Earth.
  • The NASA has come hard on China over space debris issue.

ASM3: India recently participated in the 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial (ASM3) - the global platform for discussing research and cooperation in the Arctic region.

Key Points:

  • Union Minister for Earth Sciences Harsh Vardhan virtually represented India in the ASM3 which was held in Tokyo, Japan.
  • It was jointly organized by Japan and Iceland.
  • The ASM3 is the first meeting to be held in Asia.
  • The first two meetings—ASM1 and ASM2—were held in the USA in 2016 and Germany in 2018, respectively.
  • The theme of 2021 Arctic Ministerial Meeting was - "Knowledge for a Sustainable Arctic".

Objective:

  • The main objective of the meet is that provides opportunities to various stakeholders, including academia, indigenous communities, governments and policymakers, to enhance collective understanding of the Arctic region, emphasize and engage in constant monitoring, and strengthen observations.

India's stand at the Meet:

  • India's plans for research and long-term cooperation in the Arctic Region.
  • India will contribute observing systems in the Arctic, both in-situ and by remote sensing.
  • India would deploy open ocean mooring in the Arctic for long-term monitoring of upper ocean variables and marine meteorological parameters.
  • India is all set to launch NISAR (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite mission, in collaboration with the USA which will help in conducting global measurements of the cause and consequences of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.
  • India will continue to contribute to the Sustained Arctic Observational Network (SAON).
  • India proposed to host the next or future Arctic Science Ministerial meet.

India’s Engagement in the Arctic - Svalbard Treaty:

  • India’s engagement in the Arctic region started with the signing of Svalbard Treaty of Paris in 1920.
  • Since 2008, India constructed a permanent research station in the Arctic region.
  • It is called Himadri.
  • Himadri is located at NyAlesund, Norway.
  • In 2014, India also deployed a multi sensor observer called IndARC in Kongfjiorden fjord.
  • The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa  under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India (GoI) coordinates and conducts the research in the Arctic region.
  • India recently drafted a new Arctic policy that aims at expanding scientific research, sustainable tourism and exploration of mineral oil and gas in the Arctic region.

India’s Arctic Policy:

The recently released draft Arctic Policy document outlines five pillars of India’s policy. They are as follows:

  1. Development of Human Resource capabilities
  2. Global governance and international cooperation
  3. Economics and Human development
  4. Scientific research
  5. Connectivity

NISER:

  • NISER is NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite mission.
  • It aims to conduct global measurements of the cause and consequences of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.

It is an ongoing project.

International Arctic Science Committee (IASC):

  • IASC is a non-governmental, international scientific organization.

About SAON:

  • Sustaining Arctic Observing Network (SAON) is a joint activity of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Arctic Council.
  • The purpose of SAON is to support and strengthen the development of multinational engagement for sustained and coordinated pan-Arctic observing and data sharing systems.

Arctic Region:

  • The Arctic region comprises the Arctic Ocean and parts of countries such as Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia, USA (Alaska), Finland, Sweden and Iceland.
  • These countries together form the core of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum.
  • It is headquartered in Norway.

Arctic Council:

  • The Arctic Council was formed in 1996.
  • It addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic.
  • India is an “Observer” in the Arctic Council since 2013.

IND: International Nurses Day (IND) is a day observed every year on May 12 (the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth) to honour nurses.

IND is an international day observed around the world to mark the contributions that nurses make to society.

The theme for IND 2021 is "Nursing the World to Health".

About IND:

  • The International Nurses Day has been celebrated by the International Council of Nurses since 1965.
  • Every year, on International Nurses Day, the International Council of Nurses distributes educational and public information materials to be used by nurses everywhere.

History:

  • In 1953, a US health, education and welfare department official, Dorothy Sunderland, proposed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower to proclaim a "Nurses' Day" which he did not approve.
  • In 1974, May 12 was chosen to celebrate the day as it is the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

About Florence Nightingale:

  • Known as the Lady with the Lamp, Florence Nightingale the founder of modern nursing, started work as a nursing in-charge of the British and allied soldiers, wounded during the Crimean War.
  • She was an English social reformer and also was the founder of modern nursing.
  • She trained and managed nurses during the Crimean War.
  • She took care of wounded soldiers at Constantinople.
  • The reputation for nurses in the Victorian culture also began to increase because of her.
  • She was called as “The Lady with the Lamp” because she used to carry a lamp while making rounds of wounded soldiers at night.
  • She was the first person to lay foundation of professional nursing.
  • She established Nursing school at St Thomas hospital in London.
  • It was the first nursing school in the world.
  • It is now a part of the King’s college of London.

Florence Nightingale Medal:

  • The Florence Nightingale Medal is the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve.
  • It is awarded by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

About Victorian Era:

  • In the history of the United Kingdom (UK), the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901.
  • This era was preceded by Edwardian period and was succeeded by the Gregorian period.
  • This era is characterized by a class-based society, a growing number of people able to vote, a growing state and economy, and Britain’s status as the most powerful empire in the world.

PM K P Sharma Oli:  On May 14, 2021, K P Sharma Oli was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Nepal for the third time.

Highlights:

  • President Bidya Devi Bhandari administered his oath of office.
  • CPN-UML chairperson KP Sharma Oli recently lost a crucial trust vote in the House of Representatives.
  • He was re-appointed as the Prime Minister as the opposition couldn’t prove their majority.
  • Along with Mr Oli, cabinet members under his administration also took an oath of secrecy.
  • Oli is now required to win a vote of confidence at the House within 30 days of his appointment as the new Prime Minister, failing which an attempt to form a government under Article 76 (5) would be initiated.

Article 76 of the Nepal Constitution:

  • Article 76 (5) of the constitution states that if a Prime Minister appointed according to clause 76 (3) fails to receive a vote of confidence pursuant to clause 76 (4), the president shall appoint a member as Prime Minister who produces bases that he/she may win the vote of confidence of the House as provided in clause (2).
  • Article 76 (2) states that if there is not clear majority of any party according to clause (1), the President shall appoint as Prime Minister the member of the House of Representatives who can have the majority with the support of two more parties represented in the House of Representatives.
  • The Prime Minister as appointed under the above procedure is given thirty days to prove his vote of confidence.
  • If the Prime Minister is not able to gain vote of confidence within thirty days, the President shall appoint the leader of the party that gained the highest number of members in the House of Representatives.
  • Again he is given time to prove his majority.
  • If none of the above clauses are possible, then the President shall dissolve the parliament and launch fresh elections.

 About PM Oli:

  • He is the 43rd Prime Minister of Nepal.
  • He previously served as prime minister from October 11, 2015 to August 3, 2016 and again from February 15, 2018 to May 13, 2021.

Nepal:

  • Nepal officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is mainly situated in the Himalayas, but also includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, bordering Tibet of China to the north, and India in the south, east, and west.
  • It is narrowly separated from Bangladesh by the Siliguri Corridor, and from Bhutan by the Indian state of Sikkim.
  • Nepal is a multinational state, with Nepali as the official language.
  • Kathmandu is the nation's capital.
  • The current Prime Minister and President of Nepal are K p sharma Oli and Bidya Devi Bhandari.

International Day of Families: The International Day of Families is observed on the 15 May every year.

The theme of 2021 is “Families and New Technologies”.

This year's International Day for Families focuses a lot on digital technology - both in urban and rural space.  Few important facts are as follows:

  • Impact of digital technologies on children at different stages.
  • As classrooms have become virtual and remote learning has replaced teacher-student interactions, parents at home have a bigger role to play.
  • Enabling parents to do this without getting exhausted is also one of the key issues.
  • Analysis of technology and its impact on families including equity, access, privacy and online safety.
  • Digital literacy and dissemination of information and awareness.
  • Ensuring mental and physical well-being of parents and children and, handling negative impacts of technology like screen fatigue and cyber security.

History:

  • The Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 with resolution A/RES/47/237 and reflects the importance the international community attaches to families.

 The International Day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.

It focuses on key issues central to the well-being of families across the world like health, education, children's rights, gender equality, work-family balance and social inclusion among others.